Since hypertension is a leading risk factor for heart attack and stroke, the new study calls into question the notion that moderate alcohol consumption benefits heart health.
"I think this will be a turning point for clinical practice, as well as for future research, education and public health policy regarding alcohol consumption," said Amer Aladin, MD, a cardiology fellow at Wake Forest Baptist Health and the study's lead author.
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A study of more than 17,000 US adults shows that moderate alcohol consumption -- seven to 13 drinks per week -- substantially raises one's risk of high blood pressure, or hypertension, according to new research. The findings contrast with some previous studies that have associated moderate drinking with a lower risk of some forms of heart disease.
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The pattern among heavy drinkers was even more pronounced; relative to those who never drank, heavy drinkers were 69 percent more likely to have stage 1 hypertension and 2.4 times as likely to have stage 2 hypertension.
Overall, the average blood pressure was about 109/67 mm Hg among never-drinkers, 128/79 mm Hg among moderate drinkers and 153/82 mm Hg among heavy drinkers.