24 August 2010

Binge Drinking Lethal for Men with Hypertension

Food Consumer

Binge drinking or heavy, sporadic drinking can raise risk of premature death from heart attack or stroke
in men with hypertension or high blood pressure, according to a new study led by researchers from Seoul,  South Korea.

Sull J.W. and colleagues from Eulji University College of Health Science and other academic institutions found that men with Grade 3 hypertension who were also binge drinkers were 12 times as likely to die from cardiovascular events like heart attack or myocardial infarction and stroke than those who did not drink with normal blood pressure.

Among those who had Grade 3 hypertension and were non-heavy binge drinkers, the risk was 4 times as higher to die from heart attack and stroke compared with those who did not drink and had normal blood pressure.

The researchers were able to calculate the effect from heavy binge drinking and hypertension. They found binge drinking boosted the risk of death from cardiovascular events was merely 88 percent, while hypertension boosts the risk by 100 percent compared with nondrinkers with normal blood pressure.

For the study, Sull and colleagues followed 6100 residents in Kangwha County aged 55 or older for 20.8 years, from March 1985 through Dec 2005.  Heavy binge drinking was defined as having 12 or more drinks on one occasion; binge drinking as having 6 or more drinks per event.

Drinking alcoholic beverages, which are recognized by the National Toxicology Program as a human carcinogen, have been linked with numerous serious chronic diseases or conditions including diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular problems.

The issue is controversial, as many studies link light drinking to reduced risk of heart disease, even though alcohol is generally associated with an increased cancer risk.

In any case, binge drinking has not been found to offer any benefit. The study suggests that it can be lethal for men with high blood pressure, and they should seek treatment if necessary from a group such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as drinking excessive amounts of alcohol in a short time.  This happens typically when men consume 5 or more drinks and women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours.

Binge drinking is common.  The CDC says about 92 percent of U.S. adults report they have engaged in binge drinking in the past 30 days.

In addition to the increased risk of cardiovascular death in men with hypertension, binge drinking in general is associated with high blood pressure, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases, liver disease, neurological damage such as brain shrinkage, sexual dysfunction and poor control of diabetes.

Binge drinking can also lead to unintentional injuries (car crashes, falls, burns and drowning) and intentional injuries (firearm injuries, sexual assault and domestic violence, alcohol poisoning, unsafe sex leading to infection with sexually transmitted disease and unintended pregnancy).

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