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One alcoholic drink daily can raise risk of high blood pressure: Study

Analysis of seven international research studies shows that drinking even one alcoholic drink daily could raise blood pressure levels (Pic. Courtesy IANS)

ADrinking even one alcoholic drink daily could raise blood pressure levels, according to an analysis of seven international research studies published on Tuesday in Hypertension, an American Heart Association journal.

The studies showed that even in adults without hypertension, blood pressure readings may climb more steeply over the years as the number of daily alcoholic drinks rise.

The analysis confirms for the first time there was a continuous increase in blood pressure measures in both participants with low and high alcohol intake.

Even low levels of alcohol consumption were associated with detectable increases in blood pressure levels that may lead to a higher risk of cardiovascular events.

“We found no beneficial effects in adults who drank a low level of alcohol compared to those who did not drink alcohol,” said Marco Vinceti, Professor of epidemiology and public health in the Medical School of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia University in Italy.

“We were somewhat surprised to see that consuming an already-low level of alcohol was also linked to higher blood pressure changes over time compared to no consumption — although far less than the blood pressure increase seen in heavy drinkers,” said Vinceti, also an adjunct professor in the department of epidemiology at Boston University’s School of Public Health.

Earlier this year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) also warned that there is no safe amount of alcohol that does not affect health.

“We cannot talk about a so-called safe level of alcohol use. It doesn’t matter how much you drink — the risk to the drinker’s health starts from the first drop of any alcoholic beverage. The only thing that we can say for sure is that the more you drink, the more harmful it is — or, in other words, the less you drink, the safer it is,” Dr Carina Ferreira-Borges, acting Unit Lead for Noncommunicable Disease Management and Regional Advisor for Alcohol and Illicit Drugs in the WHO Regional Office for Europe, said in a statement.

In the new study, co-author Tommaso Filippini from Modena explained that the analysis was based on grams of alcohol consumed and not just on the number of drinks to avoid the bias that might arise from the different amount of alcohol contained in ‘standard drinks’ across countries and/or types of beverages.

For the study, researchers reviewed the health data for all participants across the seven studies published between 1997 and 2021 and involving 19,548 adults.

They compared adults who drank alcohol regularly with non-drinkers.

The findings showed systolic (top number) blood pressure rose 1.25 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg) in people who consumed an average of 12 grams of alcohol per day, rising to 4.9 mm Hg in people consuming an average of 48 grams of alcohol per day.

The diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure rose 1.14 mm Hg in people consuming an average of 12 grams of alcohol per day, rising to 3.1 mm Hg in people consuming an average of 48 grams of alcohol per day.

“Alcohol is certainly not the sole driver of increases in blood pressure; however, our findings confirm it contributes in a meaningful way. Limiting alcohol intake is advised, and avoiding it is even better,” Vinceti said.