Regularly ingesting small amounts of alcohol is associated with a significant increase in blood pressure levels over time, which can lead to an increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease.
A new research involving experts from the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in Italy analyzed how alcohol consumption is linked to blood pressure using the results of seven international studies. The results have been published in the English-language journal Hypertension.
Alcohol consumption evaluated over five years
The team evaluated the health data of all participants from the seven studies over a period of more than five years and compared people who drank alcohol with participants who did not drink any alcohol.
Increase in blood pressure even with little alcohol
It was shown that even a low alcohol consumption of 12 grams per day was associated with a significant increase in systolic blood pressure in women and men. According to the research team, if participants consumed higher amounts of alcohol, blood pressure values rose even more.
Such a linear relationship was also found for the diastolic blood pressure values in men, but not in women. Overall, however, the data analysis shows that a continuous increase in blood pressure values occurs in both people with low and high alcohol consumption.
“We were somewhat surprised to find that even light alcohol consumption compared to no alcohol consumption was associated with larger changes in blood pressure over time – albeit to a much lesser extent than the increase in blood pressure in heavy drinkers,” says study author Professor Marco Vinceti a press release.
“Alcohol is certainly not the only cause of the increase in blood pressure, but our results confirm that it makes an important contribution. It is advisable to limit alcohol consumption, and even better to avoid it,” adds the doctor.
If you have high blood pressure, reduce alcohol consumption
Although no participants suffered from high blood pressure at the start of the study, the blood pressure measured at the beginning had an influence on the results. According to the researchers, there was a stronger connection between alcohol consumption and blood pressure changes over time in participants who had higher blood pressure values at the beginning of the study.
This suggests, study author Paul K. Whelton says, that people who tend to have elevated, if not excessive, blood pressure might benefit most from drinking little or not drinking alcohol at all. (as)