The Herald

Alcohol link to blood pressure ‘greater than thought’

- JAMIE GRIERSON

THE relationsh­ip between heavy drinking and high blood pressure is more significan­t than previously thought, the Public Library of Science (PLoS) Medicine journal has reported.

The PLoS Medicine article said previous studies have reported heavy alcohol intake is a risk factor for high blood pressure – or hypertensi­on – but such studies were blurred by factors such as diet, smoking, exercise levels and socioecono­mic status.

But the journal’s analysis of a recent study at Bristol Uni- versity, led by Dr Sarah Lewis, revealed a more positive link between heavy drinking and hypertensi­on.

It said the study took a different approach by focusing on people with a mutation on a gene which affects the body’s ability to get rid of alcohol. After consumptio­n, an enzyme called alcohol dehydrohen­ase 2 (ALDH2) eliminates the chemical from the body.

The study found individual­s with the ALDH2 gene, who had an average alcohol intake of around three units per day, had strikingly higher blood pressure than those with the gene mutation, who tend to drink only very small amounts, or no alcohol at all.

Dr Lewis, of Bristol University’s department of social medicine, said: “This study shows that alcohol intake may increase blood pressure to a much greater extent, even among moderate drinkers, than previously thought.”

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