1 alcoholic drink a day could raise blood pressure, study finds.

1 alcoholic drink a day could raise blood pressure, study finds.

The Impact of Alcohol Consumption on Blood Pressure: Understanding the Risks

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Blood pressure is a highly valuable indicator of health. Keeping blood pressure within a healthy range can reduce the risk of adverse health outcomes. Many factors can increase someone’s risk for high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. However, researchers are still seeking to understand the full impact of certain risk factors.

One area of interest is how the consumption of alcohol impacts blood pressure. Drinking alcohol, including in small amounts, is common. However, even drinking small amounts of alcohol may contribute to high blood pressure.

A recent study published in Hypertension found that drinking alcohol, even as low as one drink a day, was still associated with increased blood pressure. The research focused on the impact of different amounts of alcohol consumption on blood pressure levels. Despite consuming relatively low levels of alcohol, participants exhibited increased systolic blood pressure.

Blood pressure measures the force of blood against the arteries of the body. Systolic blood pressure measures the force when the heart contracts, while diastolic blood pressure measures the force when the heart muscles relax. When blood pressure becomes too high, the risk of damage to the body increases, including the heightened risk of heart attacks and heart failure.

Smoking, a diet high in sodium, and low physical activity levels are known risk factors for high blood pressure. Alcohol intake can also increase this risk. However, current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest limiting alcohol consumption to one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men.

Dr. Cheng-Han Chen, an interventional cardiologist and medical director, explains, “We have known for a long time that drinking alcohol in moderate to heavy amounts will raise blood pressure. This is very relevant in cardiovascular health because we know that hypertension is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke. Because of this, we have recommended that people drink no more than a moderate amount (2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women).”

The recent study investigated the relationship between alcohol intake and blood pressure levels. Their research involved a dose-response meta-analysis of seven nonexperimental cohort studies, including over 19,500 participants from the United States, Japan, and South Korea. The studies had an average follow-up time of just over five years and included participants with no previous history of cardiovascular disease.

The study found that drinking alcohol was associated with increased systolic blood pressure for both men and women. Interestingly, there appeared to be no baseline threshold for this association. Even consuming as little as 12 grams of alcohol per day, which is lower than one standard drink in the United States, was associated with a 1.25 mmHg increase in systolic blood pressure. Higher amounts of alcohol consumption resulted in a more significant increase in systolic blood pressure, with 48 grams of daily alcohol associated with an average 4.9 mmHg increase.

Dr. Marco Vinceti, the study author, stated, “The general principle and message for the alcohol and blood pressure relation emerging from our dose-response meta-analysis is ‘the lower the better, and no consumption even better,’ as we did not find any indication that human health may benefit from consumption of very small amounts of alcohol.”

While this study provides valuable insights, it does have limitations. There were a limited number of studies available for analysis, jeopardizing the opportunity to thoroughly explore the relationship between age, blood pressure, and alcohol intake. The study also did not consider the potential influence of different types of alcohol on blood pressure. Further research could involve more diverse samples and cover a broader range of factors that affect blood pressure.

Dr. Vinceti highlights the need for continued research, stating, “Our analysis must be complemented with additional assessments to draw the entire picture of the cardiovascular effects of alcohol intake, such as hypertension, stroke, coronary heart disease, and overall cardiovascular disease risk.”

While changes in alcohol consumption recommendations may take time and additional research, this study’s findings could potentially alter guidelines. Dr. Chen suggests, “For a long time, the consensus was that it might be ‘safe’ to drink in moderation. This study adds to other recent data that suggest that NO amount of alcohol consumption can be considered good for the heart. Because of this, I expect that our medical recommendations regarding alcohol consumption are going to change in the future.”

Overall, understanding the impact of alcohol on blood pressure is crucial. By being aware of the risks associated with alcohol consumption, individuals can make informed decisions about their health and well-being.