Alcohol abuse and heart problems

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Alcohol-induced hypertension

Alcohol abuse is associate with an increase in blood pressure and of heart problems, as shown by many epidemiological studies.

Hypertension and cardiovascular mortality both increase proportionally with alcohol consumption, independently of the type of drink consumed (wine, beer, spirits). It has been shown that small quantities of alcohol can help protect from heart problems, as mentioned in our articles on “Hypertension and red wine” and “Beer and high blood pressure“. However, on the contrary, excessive alcohol consumption can raise the level of triglycerides in the blood and lead to hypertension and cardiovascular damage. It is also important not to underestimate the caloric content of alcoholic drinks; if you wish to lose weight, you should reduce alcohol consumption. The damaging relationship between alcohol and blood pressure is observable when alcohol consumption regularly exceeds 20 grams per day, corresponding to about 200ml of wine, 400ml of beer or 50ml of spirits.

A study published in April 2008 examined the association between ethanol consumption and the risk of developing hypertension for 28,848 women in the “Women’s Health Study” and 13,455 men in the “Physician’s Health Study”. The study confirmed that elevated consumption of alcoholic beverages (more than 2 drinks per day) increases the risk of hypertension and heart problems in both men and women, although women showed a reduction in risk for consumption of small quantities of alcohol.

You should only drink in moderation in order to help prevent heart and blood pressure problems. It was observed that blood pressure starts decreasing just a few days after decreasing alcohol intake.

What are the maximum quantities you should not exceed in order to avoid heart and blood pressure problems?

  • Women are recommended to consume no more than 2/3 units per day (no more than 14 per week)
  • Men are recommended to consume no more than 4 units a day (no more than 21 per week)

How much is 1 unit of alcohol?

  • About 1 small glass of wine (125 ml)
  • A single unit of spirits
  • One glass (300 ml) of a pale beer

For beers or wines with higher alcohol contents, quantities should be reduced. For example, a small glass of a strong wine contains 1.5 units of alcohol.

 

Scientific articles below: