If you have high blood pressure, binge drinking may dramatically raise your risk of stroke or heart-related death, according to a South Korean study reported in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.
Compared to non-drinkers with normal blood pressure, researchers found that the risk of cardiovascular death in men with blood pressure of at least 168 /100 millimeters of mercury was:
- three times higher overall,
- four times higher if they were binge drinkers, consuming six or more drinks on one occasion, and
- twelve times higher if they were heavy binge drinkers, consuming 12 or more drinks on one occasion.
The study followed more than 6,100 residents, 55 years and older, of an agricultural community in South Korea for almost 21 years.
Overall, about 15 percent of men said they were moderate binge drinkers and about 3 percent said they were heavy binge drinkers. However, because less than one percent of the women were reportedly binge drinkers, no conclusions could be made about the combined impact of high blood pressure and binge drinking in women, said Heechoul Ohrr, M.D., Ph.D., senior author of the study and professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine at Yonsei University College of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea.
Hypertension and binge drinking each contribute to cardiovascular disease but have been rarely studied together, researchers said. These findings need to be confirmed in other studies and it's unclear whether the results can be generalized to other populations.
The American Heart Association advises that if you drink alcohol, do so in moderation -- no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. The association defines a drink as one 12-ounce beer, one 4-ounce glass of wine, 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits or one ounce of 100-proof spirits.
Co-authors are Jae Woong Sull, Ph.D.; Sang Wook Yi, M.D., Ph.D.; Chung Mo Nam, Ph.D.; and Kwisook Choi, Ph.D. Author disclosures and funding information are on the manuscript.
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