Heavy Drinkers Twice as Likely to Have High Blood Pressure

April 4, 2005

Madeline Vann
Phone: 504-247-1425

Chinese men who drink more than 30 alcoholic drinks a week have twice the risk of high blood pressure than those who do not drink, say Tulane University researchers in the April edition of the Journal of Hypertension.

"Our study is among the first to closely examine the relationship between the number of alcoholic beverages a person drinks and high blood pressure in a Chinese population. The majority of previous research has been based on Western populations, and data from other cardiovascular risk factors has suggested that Western and Asian populations do not necessarily respond identically to every risk factor" says epidemiologist Rachel Wildman, lead author of the study, which reviewed data from men in China. "Heart disease is the leading killer of adults in China today. Limiting alcohol intake has to be a part of efforts to prevent and manage high blood pressure in China."

Researchers drew data from 5,317 Chinese men between the ages of 35 and 74 who participated in the InterASIA study. The survey included detailed blood pressure measurements. Participants also answered questions about the number of alcoholic beverages they drank per week.

Nearly one in five Chinese men (17 percent) consumed more than 30 alcoholic drinks a week. Just over half the men in the study reported consuming less than 12 drinks in the past year. According to Wildman, previous research has indicated that there is a relationship between alcohol consumption and high blood pressure and that reducing alcohol consumption will lower blood pressure.

This is the first study to quantify the amount of alcoholic beverages related to marked increases in high blood pressure in three subtypes of hypertension: isolated systolic hypertension, systolic-diastolic hypertension and isolated diastolic hypertension.

"Adult men in China who cut back by one alcoholic drink per day could lower systolic blood pressure by 0.91 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 0.49 mmHg. Clearly, addressing alcohol consumption habits should be a part of any effort to control hypertension," Wildman says.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000