Now scientists say you shouldn’t drink alcohol at all! Even one small glass of wine a night can raise blood pressure, study claims
- A daily tipple could raise the risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke review finds
- READ MORE: Doctor, will my husband’s drinking worsen his heart problem?
One small glass of wine each night might be enough to raise your risk of a heart attack, a review suggests.
Experts found that even low daily alcohol consumption was enough to significantly raise blood pressure.
Italian researchers claimed that, as a result of their analysis, people should avoid alcohol altogether.
High blood pressure, medically referred to as hypertension, is a leading cause of heart attacks and strokes.
Experts at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia compared blood pressure readings from more than 20,000 participants, who were followed for at least four years.
Italian experts say even just one glass of wine a day could be raising your risk of suffering heart attack or stroke
Volunteers who consumed an average of 12g of alcohol per day saw their systolic scores jump 1.25mmHg higher than teetotallers.
This is the equivalent of a small glass of wine or 330ml bottle of beer.
This amount is well under the recommended NHS guidelines of no more than 14 units per week, or the equivalent of about 9 small glasses of wine or eight bottles of beer, or six pints.
Heaviest drinkers, those who consumed four times that amount, saw their reading jump by 4.9mmHg.
What’s normal when it comes to blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the term used to describe the strength with which your blood pushes on the sides of your arteries as it’s pumped around your body.
Low blood pressure (hypotension) is not usually a problem, although it can cause dizziness and fainting in some people.
High blood pressure (hypertension) can increase your risk of developing serious problems, such as heart attacks and strokes, if it’s not treated.
Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and is given as two numbers in an X/Y format
The first is systolic pressure – the pressure when your heart pushes blood out.
The second diastolic pressure – the pressure when your heart rests between beats.
Generally normal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg.
Systolic, the top number on a reading, refers to the pressure when your heart pushes blood out.
High blood pressure is considered a key indicator of poor heart health.
Similar findings were observed for diastolic scores in male heavy drinkers. Diastolic is the pressure recorded when your heart rests between beats and is the bottom number in a blood pressure reading.
Dr Marco Vinceti, senior author, said: ‘We found no beneficial effects in adults who drank a low level of alcohol compared to those who did not drink alcohol.’
Excessive alcohol consumption is widely known to raise blood pressure.
Dr Vinceti said his team were ‘somewhat surprised’ to see that low levels were also linked to higher blood pressure changes.
He added: ‘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.’
Fellow author Dr Tommaso Filippini said doctors could advise those with an at-risk blood pressure reading to cut back on the booze.
‘We found participants with higher starting blood pressure readings had a stronger link between alcohol intake and blood pressure changes over time,’ he said.
Dr Filippini added that people with increasing blood pressure, but not yet full hypertension, ‘may benefit the most from low to no alcohol consumption’.
The study was published in the journal Hypertension.
Results were taken from seven studies on alcohol consumption and blood pressure conducted in the US, Korea and Japan between 1997 and 2021.
The NHS recommends that adults drink no more than 14 units each week — that’s 14 single shots of spirit or six pints of beer or a bottle and a half of wine
In total 19,548 people were included.
None of the participants had high blood pressure at the start of the study.
Healthy blood pressure is considered to between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg.
Medics may prescribe lifestyle changes, such as more exercise and drugs to lower blood pressure to safer levels.
Other contributors to high blood pressure include being overweight, excessive salt and caffeine consumption, lack of exercise, stress and age.
DO YOU DRINK TOO MUCH ALCOHOL? THE 10 QUESTIONS THAT REVEAL YOUR RISK
One screening tool used widely by medical professionals is the AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Tests). Developed in collaboration with the World Health Organisation, the 10-question test is considered to be the gold standard in helping to determine if someone has alcohol abuse problems.
The test has been reproduced here with permission from the WHO.
To complete it, answer each question and note down the corresponding score.
0-7: You are within the sensible drinking range and have a low risk of alcohol-related problems.
Over 8: Indicate harmful or hazardous drinking.
8-15: Medium level of risk. Drinking at your current level puts you at risk of developing problems with your health and life in general, such as work and relationships. Consider cutting down (see below for tips).
16-19: Higher risk of complications from alcohol. Cutting back on your own may be difficult at this level, as you may be dependent, so you may need professional help from your GP and/or a counsellor.
20 and over: Possible dependence. Your drinking is already causing you problems, and you could very well be dependent. You should definitely consider stopping gradually or at least reduce your drinking. You should seek professional help to ascertain the level of your dependence and the safest way to withdraw from alcohol.
Severe dependence may need medically assisted withdrawal, or detox, in a hospital or a specialist clinic. This is due to the likelihood of severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms in the first 48 hours needing specialist treatment.
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