Alcohol And Blood Pressure Problems Go Hand In Hand
A lot of people think alcohol lowers blood pressure, and they are right. However, it’s only a short term effect. The long-term impact of alcohol and blood pressure and not such a rosy story.
New data suggest that you only have to have a handful of drinks a day for your heart to be impacted by your drinking.
United States researchers discovered men who say that they binged more than 10 times a year had higher blood pressure and higher overall cholesterol levels than men who didn’t.
The report was based on a study of adults in the USA, using data from both males and females aged 21 to 44.
Individuals were asked how many times in the past year they’d drunk FIVE (or more) alcoholic drinks in a single day (FOUR drinks for women). Why this specific number? Well, it may sound quite modest but 4 drinks in one sitting are enough to earn you the label of ‘binge drinker’.
Less risk for women!
There is some good news (and bad news for women). Strangely, the females in the test did not show any signs of increased blood pressure with drinking. Sadly, ladies don’t get away with it because they did reveal a very negative impact on their blood sugar levels.
But is this elevated blood pressure in men and blood glucose issue in women causing any harm to our hearts?
Heart health is a heavily researched area and we know broadly speaking what to expect from this abuse. I would be surprised if there wasn’t some degree of damage caused by alcohol-induced higher blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Although these research results may not be definitive, substantial use of alcohol over time carries other health and wellness issues to consider, from cancer to alcoholic cirrhosis.
Guidance in many parts of Europe is to drink no more than 14 alcoholic drinks per week and to spread those alcoholic beverages uniformly through the week.
A robust study
This report was conducted under strict controls and considered only data relating to USA based drinkers.
It is worth noting that these types of snapshot research studies cannot show historical data around the participants. This is because they simply present you the picture as it is in that moment that the survey is done. You can’t tell if someone has been binging for years or weeks.
Researchers looked at data about alcohol use from the USA-based alcohol and blood pressure survey executed from 2012 to 2015.
This report is a population-based survey developed to collect data on the health and nutrition of the United States population as a whole.
The researchers used information from 4,800 male and female drinkers aged 21 to 44 who didn’t have any indicators of cardiovascular disease and had provided information about their alcohol use.
They sorted people into THREE groups:
- People who stated that they never binge on alcohol
- Individuals who admitted binge drinking alcohol (FOUR to FIVE or more drinks a day) TWELVE times a year or less.
- Individuals who mentioned excessive drinking for more than TWELVE periods a year.
The researchers examined the folks’ alcohol use and compared it to their blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood sugar results.
They looked separately at males and females and examined results for men and women with one another to obtain a picture of whether excessive drinking may impact males and females differently.
The analysts adjusted their numbers to take account of anything that could skew the data. The considered the person’s diet, sodium consumption, cigarette smoking, and level of activity, as each one of these is understood to have an effect on heart health.
What did they discover?
The end results were different for men and women.
Men’s systolic blood pressure (the pressure at which your cardiovascular system pumps blood across your body) was increased for males who drank above the recommended amount of alcohol. Ideally, systolic blood pressure really should be between 89 and 121 mmHg.
In the study, systolic blood pressure was:
- 118.5 mm Hg for males who claimed never to binge drink
- 119.5 mm Hg for men who reported excessive alcohol consumption TWELVE times a year or less
- 122.8 mm Hg for males who revealed binge drinking more than TWELVE times a year
- The systolic blood pressure in female drinkers was practically the same in the 3 clusters.
We can see that alcohol affects diastolic blood pressure (the resistance to the bloodstream flow through the veins in our body) for men only but not so much for women.
A bigger problem for men
Men who presented with clear signs of alcoholism also had higher overall cholesterol levels. Preferably, overall cholesterol levels ought to be around 199mg/dL or less.
In the research study, it was:
- 208.8 mg/ dL for people who stated no binging
- 218.9 mg/ dL for males disclosing binge drinking TWELVE times a year or fewer
- 216.5 mg/ dL for men reporting binge drinking more than TWELVE times a year
- Women’s total cholesterol levels weren’t related to excessive drinking but were above 200mg/dL in all groups.
While women who admitted to binge drinking on a regular basis did not present any significant blood pressure issue, they all had greater blood sugar readings (101.8 and 102.2 mg/dL) than those who didn’t binge drink (97.1 mg/dL). Ideal blood sugar is under 100mg/dL (under 5.4 mmol/l).
Some of the outcomes are a little shocking. For example, the complete opposite is true for makes. The men who admitted binge drinking regularly had lower blood sugar levels, and both females and males who disclosed excessive drinking had increased amounts of cholesterol than those who didn’t binge drink.
Some shocking results
The team running the survey stated: “Alcohol use disorders are becoming more common in younger people. Our young men and women have to be clearly advised about their alcohol misuse, including binge drinking, and instructed on how excessive alcohol consumption may affect their heart health and overall wellness.”
The research study adds to the evidence that alcohol use may affect high blood pressure and cholesterol levels for some people.
Stroke risk & age
Former research studies have shown that older adults who binge drink have a greater risk of cardiac arrest and stroke.
This research study suggests several groups of younger adults are also at risk.
The main issue with the report is that it’s just a snapshot survey. It looked merely at what individuals blood pressure, body fat levels, and drinking routines were at one moment in time.
A more interesting investigation would observe folks who reported different levels of binge alcohol consumption over numerous yrs to see how their high blood pressure and lipid levels changed over time.
That might provide stronger, more reliable results, though it would amount to a more time-consuming and costly piece of analysis.
Problems with the research include:
We don’t know for how long people had been binge drinking, or whether they changed their routines over time.
It is not possible to assess the collective effect of binge drinking on blood pressure and cholesterol.
With this data, we still don’t know whether the results only apply to drinkers in the United States or whether we would see the same numbers all over the world.
Alcohol And Blood Pressure: Conclusion
If you are a man who is drinking heavily on a regular basis there is a good chance this behaviour is causing damage to your heart and increased blood pressure. Over time there is evidence to suggest that this can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, liver damage, cardiac arrest, and stroke.
Women don’t seem to be as affected as men but only with regards to alcohol and blood pressure. Blood pressure in female drinkers (for reasons yet unknown) appears to remain relatively stable despite alcohol use. However, this is not a get out of jail free card. Female problem drinkers see a significant increase in blood sugar levels.
Having too much sugar in the bloodstream for long periods of time can trigger serious health problems if it’s not dealt with.
Hyperglycemia can harm the vessels that supply haemoglobin to vital body organs, which can raise the threat of cardiovascular disease and stroke, renal disease, vision problems, and nerve problems.
The Health Benefits Of Quitting Drinking Are Clear
Ready to stop the cycle of binge drinking and give your most important organ a chance to heal?