July 28, 2018

Alcohol Causes High Blood Pressure But it’s Worse For Men!

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blood pressureAlcohol Causes High Blood Pressure

“Downing as few as four drinks on an evening puts even young men in danger of heart disease,” reports a national UK newspaper.

United States researchers discovered men who swigged 5 or more alcoholic beverages in a day, on multiple occasions a year had higher blood pressure and overall cholesterol levels than those who didn’t.

The report was based on a study of adults in the USA, using data from both women and men aged 21 to 44.

Individuals were asked how many times in the past year they ‘d drunk 5 alcoholic drinks in a single day (4 drinks for women), which was determined as excessive drinking.

Less risk for women!

Binge drinking didn’t appear to be connected to women’s blood pressure or total cholesterol levels, though women who reported binge drinking were more likely to have elevated blood sugar levels.

But is this elevated blood pressure and blood glucose causing any harm to our hearts?

From what we know about heart disease, it would be surprising if there wasn’t some degree of negative influence caused by higher blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Although these research results may not be definitive, substantial drinking carries other health and wellness issues to consider, from cancer to liver organ damage.

Guidance in many parts of Europe is to drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week and to spread alcoholic beverages uniformly through the week.

Stopping Drinking Tips
Stopping Drinking Tips

A robust study

The study was an analysis of the cross-sectional United States National Health and Examination Survey data.

It is worth noting that these types of snapshot research studies cannot show cause and effect. This is because they simply present you one moment in time.

Researchers looked at data about alcohol use from the USA-based survey executed from 2011 to 2014.

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 men and women aged 21 to 44 who didn’t have cardiovascular disease and had provided information about their alcohol use.

They sorted people into THREE groups:

  1. Non-binge drinkers.
  2. Individuals who reported binge drinking (FOUR to FIVE or more drinks a day; data on total alcohol units wasn’t gathered) TWELVE times a year or less.
  3. 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 some potential confounding aspects, incorporating diet, sodium consumption, cigarette smoking, and exercise, as each one of these is understood to have an effect on high blood pressure.

What did they discover?

health benefitsThe 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 individuals who mentioned excessive drinking. Ideally, systolic blood pressure really should be between 89 and 121 mmHg.

In the study, systolic blood pressure was:

  • 117.5 mm Hg for males who didn’t binge drink
  • 119.0 mm Hg for men who reported excessive alcohol consumption TWELVE times a year or less
  • 121.8 mm Hg for males who revealed binge drinking more than TWELVE times a year
  • Women’s systolic blood pressure was practically the same in the 3 clusters.

We can see that excessive alcohol consumption affects diastolic blood pressure (the resistance to the bloodstream flow through the veins in our body) for men but not so much for women.

A bigger problem for men

Men who disclosed alcoholism had higher overall cholesterol levels. Preferably, overall cholesterol levels ought to be around 200mg/dL or less.

In the research study, it was:

  • 207.8 mg/ dL for non-binge drinkers
  • 217.9 mg/ dL for males disclosing binge drinking TWELVE times a year or fewer
  • 215.5 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.

Women who declared binge levels of alcohol consumption at any frequency had greater blood sugar amounts (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, men who reported binge drinking had lower blood sugar levels, and both females and males who disclosed excessive drinking had increased amounts of HDL (” good”) cholesterol than those who didn’t binge drink.

Some shocking results

The researchers stated: “Young men and women have to be evaluated and 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.

How to prevent a stroke
How to prevent a stroke

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 younger adults are also at risk.

The data from the study isn’t especially strong, however. For many of the metrics measured, scientists located no connection with excessive alcohol consumption.

For those where they did, the findings were in some cases inconsistent, as observed in the difference in blood glucose in between males and females.

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.

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.

Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

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 relate to young adults beyond the borders of the United States.


aaIf you are a man who is drinking heavily on a regular basis there is a good chance this behavior is causing 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. Blood pressure (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 hemoglobin to vital body organs, which can raise the threat of cardiovascular disease and stroke, renal disease, vision problems, and nerve problems.

Want to find out more about stopping drinking for good? Click here to reserve your place on the next FREE quit drinking webinar.

Craig Beck - The Stop Drinking Expert

About the author: Stop Drinking Expert - Craig Beck ABNLP. ABHYP. DhP. is an internationally renowned, specialist alcohol cessation coach and quit drinking mentor. Using his experience as a former problem drinker, combined with professionals qualifications, accreditations and practice as an addiction therapist, ICF licensed coach, master practitioner of NLP and master hypnotherapist. Independently respected and rated. Not a substitute for professional medical advice.

Craig Beck

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