Jun 30, 2023

Study: How 1 alcoholic drink can affect blood pressure

by: Julianna Russ

Posted: Aug 24, 2023 / 12:00 PM CDT

Updated: Aug 24, 2023 / 12:00 PM CDT

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A recent medical study has found drinking as little as one alcoholic drink may contribute to increased blood pressure for both men and women.

KXAN Anchor Jennifer Sanders spoke with Dr. Vivek Goswami, a cardiologist at the Heart Hospital of Austin, about the impacts alcohol has on heart health.

Read a full transcription of the discussion below or use the video player above.

SANDERS: Okay, so we’ve long known that drinking alcohol in moderate to even heavy amounts can really impact someone’s blood pressure, but a recent study by Hypertension found that low alcohol consumption might possibly increase blood pressure — what did this study find? What were the findings?

GOSWAMI: That’s right. So, you know, we’re talking about something that affects almost half of all Americans, right? Forty-eight percent of Americans, in terms of adults, have blood pressure greater than 130 over 80. Historically, it’s been a lot of causes that lead to that, whether it’s a family history, what we’re eating, inactivity, smoking or even sleep apnea. And as you mentioned, alcohol has long been associated with the development of high blood pressure. However, in this recent study, which is a meta-analysis of a combined seven studies, the authors suggest that even drinking one alcoholic beverage per day can increase your blood pressure to a significant degree. So, the message is if people are struggling with controlling their blood pressure, not only would they want to minimize alcohol, they may consider eliminating alcohol altogether.

SANDERS: In terms of any CDC recommendations, or any recommendations by doctors, do those change in terms of this new research that we got? Should people limit their alcohol usage?

GOSWAMI: Yeah. So, you know, that remains to be determined. Anytime we’re doing a meta-analysis, there are inherent limitations with this. I think it’s interesting. And I think certainly more research is needed. But really, when it comes to blood pressure, I think checking blood pressure on a regular basis, being very random with it, making sure that we’re not having high blood pressure on a regular basis, engaging in a low sodium diet less than two grams per day, can be just as effective as taking a medication, regular exercise, treating sleep apnea if it’s present and if all those things failed, and medication could sometimes bring blood pressure down as well.

SANDERS: In terms of this research, looking at alcohol intake, did it look at the type of alcohol and then the impact on certain age groups as well as preexisting conditions? Do we know anything about that?

GOSWAMI: That’s right, and that’s an important point. That’s one of the limitations of doing a meta-analysis like this. So not only do we not know what type of beverage was being consumed, it’s also being self-reported…. There could be some inconsistencies there. Oftentimes, people who are prone to drinking alcohol may be prone to more of a sedentary lifestyle, they may smoke, and they may have more stress. So, all those confounding variables are some limitations. So, although it’s interesting, that maybe even relatively small amounts of alcohol can lead to significant increases in blood pressure, I think…. more research is needed. And I think anyone struggling to control their blood pressure should certainly consider limiting their alcohol use altogether.

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