TWO glasses of red wine a day have kept heart attacks at bay as patients prescribed the pioneering treatment at Great Western Hospital have discovered.

Doctors in Swindon are marking 10 years since they trialled the treatment, a first worldwide, which involved ordering people with coronary heart disease to drink two 125ml glasses of wine a day.

Cardiologist Dr William McCrea has put more than 10,000 patients on the liquid ‘medicine’ for its antioxidant properties and very few went on to suffer a heart attack, he said.

The idea to prescribe wine came from examining statistics in France.

“In France, people consume twice the amount of fat that we do, they smoke more and they don’t do any more exercise, but their deaths from heart attacks are half ours,” he said.

“We were the first in the world to try this. “If you drink it moderately, no more than two glasses, it has a beneficial effect on coronary disease. It does three things: it prevents clots from developing inside the arteries, it raises good cholesterol, which is called HDL, and it causes dilatation of the arteries. “It stops you having a heart attack, again if it is in moderation. I’ve given it to 10,000 patients. “You would have to drink five litres of fruit juice to get the same benefits as two glasses of red wine.

“When somebody has a heart attack it’s a shock, people are alarmed and anxious so the red wine also helps to relax them and reduce stress.”

The younger the better is also his motto as older vintages lose their antioxidants in the barrel. Corked wine is not recommended as the cork absorbs antioxidants.

Wine also has to be drunk soon after opening, as it loses its antioxidant properties with exposure to the air.

White wine is not recommended as the healthy chemicals found in the grape skins are discarded in making wine.

But not all types of red wines have a high antioxidant concentration. The ones with the highest concentrations come from high altitudes. Dr McCrea recommends Cabernet Sauvig-non from Chile and Shiraz and Pinot Noir from South Africa. The worst you can go for is a Zinfandel.