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Daily Dose: Regular Alcohol Intake Raises Risk of High Blood Pressure


A daily dose of clinical news on Patient Care you may have missed.

Daily Dose: Distinct Patterns of BP in Early Gestation Predict Hypertensive Disorders / Image Credit: ©New Africa/AdobeStock

Patient Care brings primary care clinicians a lot of medical news every day—it’s easy to miss an important study. The Daily Dose provides a concise summary of one of the website's leading stories you may not have seen.

On August 1, 2023, we reported on a study published in the journal Hypertension that sought to assess how limited levels of alcohol consumption might influence risk of hypertension (HTN) among healthy adults.

The study

Researchers conducted a dose-response meta-analysis of nonexperimental cohort studies. They searched Pubmed and Embase for studies that reported on an association between usual alcohol intake and blood pressure (BP) levels, published in English or Italian before May 9, 2023. Studies were required to be based on a cohort or case-cohort investigation; evaluate the relationship between alcohol consumption and change in BP during follow-up; include healthy, adult participants; and report mean BP and the corresponding 95% confidence intervals by baseline alcohol intake categories.

The findings

Overall, the team found 7256 studies that met inclusion criteria of which 7 were evaluated as eligible for the final analysis.

Researchers noted a substantially linear positive association between baseline alcohol intake and changes over time for both systolic and diastolic BP, and stressed there was no exposure-effect threshold observed. When they compared the highest with the lowest category of alcohol intake, they found an increased mean difference of +4.30 mm Hg for systolic blood pressure (95% CI, −2.76 to +5.85) ] and of+2.42 mm Hg for diastolic blood pressure (95% CI, +1.13 to +3.71).

Compared with no alcohol consumption, the investigators found that usual systolic BP was 1.25 mm Hg higher (95% CI, +0.49 to +2.01) for a 12 g/day greater consumption of alcohol and diastolic pressure 1.14 mm Hg higher (95% CI, +0.60 to +1.68). The corresponding differences in systolic and diastolic BP for a daily alcohol consumption of 24 g/day were 2.48 (95% CI, +1.40 to +3.56) and 2.03 (95% CI, 1.19 to +2.86) mm Hg, respectively.

Authors' commentary

"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."

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