If you have hypertension, your physician may likely have told you to refrain
from drinking alcoholic beverages, which are known to raise blood pressure.
Hypertension diagnosed in an estimated 65 million
men and women in the U.S has been associated with a two-fold increased risk of cardiovascular
disease and total mortality.
But your physician's advice may change as a new study, which appears in the
January 2, 2007, issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that moderate
alcohol drinking was linked with reduced risk of heart attack in hypertensive
The study also found that hypertensive men who drank one or
two drinks of per day – so called moderate alcohol drinking would not
face a higher risk of cardiovascular events and death from heart attack
Assumably, the hypertensive men still have higher risk of
heart disease than men with normal blood pressure regardless of their
Experts quickly warned that due to the nature of this type of study, which is
prone to errors and biases, the results along do not mean hypertension patients
should jump start drinking or keep drinking alcohol even in moderation.
Some early studies have found that moderately drinking alcohol, up to one or
two drinks a day may decrease risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and total
Some studies even resulted in
a link between moderate consumption and lower CVD mortality in men with
Dr Rod Jackson and colleagues from
reported in a British medical journal called The Lancet that the seemingly protective
effect of alcohol may result from "confused research" or inadequate
One typical problem with these
studies is that they classified those subjects who had heart disease, but
stopped drinking alcohol, as nondrinkers.
They said that the benefit, if any at all, from light to moderate
drinking is probably too small to outweigh detrimental effects of alcohol on
A review study published in the May, 2006 issue of
the journal Addiction Research and Theory has found that the majority of those
studies which gave a thumbs-up to moderate drinking are flawed because they failed
to take into account the age and the illnesses of those who said they abstained
from drinking, according to an international group of researchers from the
Regardless, one finding from the current study was in agreement with what was found
early, that is, having more than two drinks of alcohol a day may increase the
risk of hypertension.
The current study meant to examine whether moderate drinking of alcohol was
associated with non-fatal myocardial infarction (MI) such as a heart attack or
In what's believed to be the first study to examine the risk of heart attack
among men with high blood pressure who drank moderately, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH),
Center and Dutch research institute
TNO Quality of Life and
Netherlands found that
hypertensive men who drank alcohol in moderation had a
decreased risk of
and non-fatal heart attack.
The researchers also found that moderate drinking of alcohol was not linked with higher
rates of stroke and death from MI and all causes in hypertensive men.
The study involved 11,711 hypertensive men from the Health Professionals
Follow-Up Study, which began in 1986.
were followed every four years to survey what they drank and how frequently.
During the follow-up, 653 cases of total MI
were documented, 279 fatal and 374 non-fatal. Cases of non-fatal MI, fatal
heart disease and stroke were documented until 2002.
The researchers observed that having one to two drinks a day was associated
decreased risk of fatal and non-fatal MI.
In addition, no association was found between
alcohol consumption and risks of cardiovascular and total mortality in the
The correlation between alcohol consumption and lower heart attack was still
significant even after other factors in both drinkers and non-drinkers were
considered including the participants’ diet, physical activity and weight, according to the study.
"Our results suggest that (asking men with hypertension to refrain from drinking) may not be necessary if men drink safely and
responsibly," said lead author Joline Beulens, a PhD-fellow at TNO Quality
of Life and
Still, "it is important for all individuals with high blood pressure to discuss
their alcohol intake with their physicians, as heavy consumption, even
occasionally, can raise blood pressure.” Kenneth Mukamal, internist at
Center and associate professor of
The study was based on data from male health care professionals. It is
unknown whether the findings apply to women or men in different occupations, the
Victor Kipnis, Ph.D. at the National Cancer Institute, and colleagues said in an editorial accompanying to
the current study, "We cannot assume that corrected estimates of
diet-disease associations in any single study are definitive."
A chemist affiliated with foodconsumer.org said that the results of a population
study like the current study do not apply to each individual even if the correlation is true. Some people who are not tolerant to alcohol would suffer even if they
Alcohol drinking is known to cause other health problems in addition to raising blood presssure. When it comes to alcohol drinking, American physicians suggest that if you
don’t drink, don’t get started.
you drink, drink in moderation.
"Alcohol Consumption and Risk for Coronary Heart Disease Among Men With
Hypertension," Joline W.J. Beulens, Eric B. Rimm, Alberto Ascherio, Donna
Spiegelman, Henk F.J. Hendriks, Kenneth J. Mukamal, Annals of Internal
Medicine, 2007; 146:10-19.
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