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How Does Alcohol Cause Cardiovascular Disease?

Other reasons for having blood pressure or a heart rate that is too high or low may suggest an underlying health problem. High blood pressure and high heart rate can be seen with exercise and emotional stress. This is because the sympathetic nervous system is activated for the fight-or-flight response.

James M Wright formulated the idea and developed the basis of the protocol. Sara Tasnim and Chantel Tang drafted the protocol with the help from James Wright. Healthy or hypertensive adults aged 18 years or older with no exclusions. By Sarah Jividen, RN

Sarah Jividen, RN, BSN, is a freelance healthcare journalist and content marketing writer at Health Writing Solutions, LLC. She has over a decade of direct patient care experience working as a registered nurse specializing in neurotrauma, stroke, and the emergency room. Sign up for free and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips, current health topics, and expertise on managing health.

Alcohol’s Effects on the Cardiovascular System

These differences in alcohol consumption duration and in outcome measurement times probably contributed to the wide variation in blood pressure in these studies and affected overall results of the meta‐analysis. The dose of alcohol had to be reported by study authors for inclusion in the systematic review. Because there are no published standards for differentiating between low and medium doses of alcohol, we chose the alcohol content in one standard drink as the threshold between low dose and medium dose. Because the alcohol content in one standard drink varies among different countries (ranging from 8 g to 14 g), we chose the Canadian standard for an alcoholic beverage, which is 14 g of pure alcohol (CCSA). Accordingly, we considered up to 14 g of alcohol as a low dose of alcohol. To differentiate between medium and high doses, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) identifies less than 30 g of alcohol for men and less than 20 g of alcohol for women as the threshold for low risk of alcohol intake (CCSA).

The hormone AII is a potent vasoconstrictor that stimulates aldosterone and vasopressin secretion from the adrenal gland, promoting sodium and water retention (Schrier 1999). As a result, peripheral resistance and blood volume are increased, leading to elevated arterial blood. Many people are still at risk of developing high blood pressure from drinking any amount of alcohol, regardless of prior health status.

Editor in Chief, Harvard Heart Letter; Editorial Advisory Board Member, Harvard Health Publishing

In terms of stroke subtypes, compared with nondrinkers, current alcohol drinkers have an increased risk (~14 percent) for hemorrhagic stroke (Ronksley et al. 2011). Heart rate was increased following alcohol consumption regardless of the dose of alcohol. Alcohol has been shown to slow down parasympathetic nervous activity and to stimulate alcohol lowers blood pressure sympathetic nervous activity. Hering 2011, Carter 2011, and Spaak 2008 reported an increase in muscle sympathetic nervous activity (MSNA), which persists for at least 10 hours after consumption. The vagus nerve is a component of the parasympathetic nervous system and is largely responsible for regulation of the heart rate at rest.

  • Because women could be affected differently by alcohol than men, future RCTs in women are needed.
  • After de‐duplication and screening of titles and abstracts, we were left with 482 citations for further assessment.
  • We are moderately certain that medium‐dose alcohol decreased blood pressure and increased heart rate within six hours of consumption.

For the purposes of this review, if I² was greater than 50%, it was considered to show a substantial level of heterogeneity. Furthermore, we visually inspected the forest plot to check whether there were any non‐overlapping confidence intervals indicating heterogeneity. Last, we attempted to explore the reason for heterogeneity by looking for clinical and methodological differences between trials. We contacted the study authors for missing or unclear information relevant to the review using contact information provided in their respective articles. If the dose of a study was not reported in the article and the study author did not respond to our request, we excluded that study.

Cardiovascular disease

Dumont 2010 measured blood pressure during the RCT, but study authors did not provide the before and after measurement of DBP. The aim of Fazio 2004 was to determine effects of alcohol on blood flow volume and velocity. Study authors mentioned that acute ethanol administration caused transitory increase in BP at 20 minutes. Rossinen 1997 measured blood pressure but selectively reported only SBP instead of reporting both SBP and DBP.

  • There are also a number of opportunities to expand on the research, including understanding more about how alcohol intake influences blood pressure among women.
  • 3Greenfield and colleagues (2005) studied the effects of alcohol at meal time in a group of nonsmoking, healthy postmenopausal women.
  • According to a 2018 study and the World Health Organization, no amount of alcohol intake is safe, so any amount may be considered too much.
  • Don’t hesitant to contact your healthcare provider to schedule an evaluation.
  • We created a funnel plot using the mean difference (MD) from studies reporting effects of medium doses and high doses of alcohol on SBP, DBP, MAP, and HR against standard error (SE) of the MD to check for the existence of publication bias.

Drinking alcohol may also increase blood pressure for a short amount of time even in healthy people. If a person thinks that they might be consuming alcohol at a rate that would classify as moderate drinking, heavy drinking, or binge drinking, they should consider cutting back to improve their overall health and well-being. We classified seven studies as having unclear risk of performance bias (Bau 2005; Bau 2011; Cheyne 2004; Dumont 2010; Karatzi 2005; Mahmud 2002; Maule 1993). Bau 2005 and Bau 2011 mentioned only that investigators and volunteers were blinded to the content of the drink but did not mention the method of blinding used in these studies. Karatzi 2005 mentioned the method of blinding of participants, but it is not clear whether involved personnel were blinded as well. The method of blinding of participants and personnel was not mentioned in Dumont 2010, Mahmud 2002, and Maule 1993.

Although anyone can become dehydrated, certain groups of people are at higher risk. These include:

We will calculate and report mean difference (MD), with 95% confidence interval (95% CI). If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you will need to work with your physician to develop a plan to manage it. In some cases, hypertension can be reversed through lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and reducing or eliminating alcohol intake. There is a significant amount of data to show that drinking large quantities of alcohol, whether it is a spirits, beer, or wine, can increase the risk of developing hypertension.

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