Binge Drinking Risky for Men with Hypertension

More than six drinks in one setting increases death risk

(RxWiki News) Binge drinking is risky for men with hypertension, dramatically increasing chances of stroke or heart attack. According to researchers men who have blood pressure of at least 168/100 are three times higher risk of cardiovascular death.

Binge drinking (six or more alcoholic drinks at a setting) has proven especially risky for men with hypertension, dramatically increasing chances of stroke or heart attack, according to new research reported in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association. Researchers found that for men with a blood pressure of at least 168/100 millimeters of mercury, the chances of cardiovascular death is three times higher overall, four times higher if the men are binge drinkers and twelve times higher if the men are heavy binge drinkers (consuming 12 or more drinks in a setting). 

“In general, everybody should moderate their drinking, but in particular if you have elevated blood pressure,” said Dr. Brian Silver of the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.


For those who drink, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than two drinks per day for men and one for women. Binge drinking is shown to increase blood pressure, cause arterial stiffening and endothelial dysfunction, and precipitate cardiac arrhythmia


The study followed more than 6,100 residents in an agriculture community in South Korea for nearly 21 years. All participants were 55 years of age and older. Of the Koreans followed, most rarely drank beer or wine and instead opted for local alcohol varieties known as soju and makkoli. Silver said the results likely generalize outside of Korea.


Since less than 1 percent of women reported to be binge drinkers, no conclusive evidence could be drawn between binge drinking and high blood pressure in women.


The risk for heart problems associated with binge drinking in those with grade 3 hypertension (a pressure above 180/110 mm/Hg) is 2.7 percent per year – a “nontrivial” figure, according to Silver – compared to 0.2 percent for non-binge drinkers without hypertension.


The authors of the study said results may have been compromised by a lack of accounting for former drinkers, use of anti-hypertensive medications, small sample sizes in some comparisons and by rough classification of smoking.

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September 14, 2010