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Sequelae of systemic hypertension in alcohol abstainers, light drinkers, and heavy drinkers

A link exists between alcohol intake and increased blood pressure (BP), with many studies showing increased hypertension prevalence in heavy drinkers. The harmful and beneficial effects of alcohol can confound the study of the long-term risks of alcohol-related hypertension. We therefore studied cardiovascular sequelae separately in heavy drinkers, light drinkers, and abstainers among 127,212 subjects with BP and alcohol intake ascertained at 1978 to 1985 health examinations. Subsequent cardiovascular end points included mortality risk, hospitalization risk, and outpatient diagnosis of hypertension. Analyses were performed for all subjects and stratified by 5 alcohol-drinking categories (from never drinkers to >or=3 drinks/day). With <120/80 mm Hg as the referent, Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate relative risks and 95% confidence intervals for 3 higher BP categories (120 to 129/80 to 84, 130 to 139/85 to 89, and >or=140/90 mm Hg). The covariates were age, gender, race, body mass index, education, and smoking. The risk of all outcomes was progressively higher for increasing BP categories, with a similarly increased risk for abstainers, light drinkers, and heavy drinkers. The interaction tests for alcohol and BP were not statistically significant for the mortality and hospitalization outcomes. Interpretation was limited by an inability to separate subjects with increased BP from alcohol consumption from those with other etiologies. In conclusion, the data indicate that the risks of hypertension are similar regardless of the amount of alcohol consumption.

Authors: Klatsky AL; Koplik S; Gunderson E; Kipp H; Friedman GD

Am J Cardiol. 2006 Oct 15;98(8):1063-8. Epub 2006 Aug 30.

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