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Alcohol and hypertension: a review

In recent decades alcohol use has joined other correlates of hypertension (HTN), such as obesity and salt intake, as a major research focus about HTN risk factors. In cross-sectional and prospective epidemiologic studies, higher blood pressure (BP) has consistently been found among persons reporting usual daily intake of three standard-sized drinks or more. Although definitive mechanisms have not been established, several aspects of the data, including short and intermediate term experiments, suggest a causal relationship. Heavier drinking may, in fact, be the commonest cause of reversible HTN, and reduction of heavy alcohol intake plays an important public health role in HTN management. Additional to the mechanism, unresolved issues about the alcohol-BP relationship include whether there is a threshold dosage of alcohol for association with HTN, the sequelae of alcohol-associated HTN and the roles of interactions with gender, ethnicity, other lifestyle traits, drinking pattern, and choice of beverage. This article reviews these areas and includes new data about the beverage choice aspect.

Authors: Klatsky AL; Gunderson E

J Am Soc Hypertens. 2008 Sep-Oct;2(5):307-17. Epub 2008 Jun 24.

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