We know high blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. It is no surprise that binge drinking isn’t a healthy habit, either. A new study now suggests that combining the two may nearly double your risk of dying from a stroke or heart attack.
The study followed 6,100 South Koreans, 55 and older, for two decades. Compared with teetotalers with normal blood pressure, men with high blood pressure who occasionally drank more than six drinks in one sitting had nearly double the risk of dying from heart attack or stroke, according to the study. Men with severe high blood pressure are at an even greater risk with those same six drinks quadrupling their chance of a deadly heart attack or stroke.
The study indicates that binge drinking compounds high blood pressure. “There have been studies that (drinking) alcohol can increase blood pressure 15 to 20 points,” said J. Carl Teeters, M.D., a cardiologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York. “And if you start off hypertensive, raising your blood pressure 15 to 20 points probably does as much as double your risk of stroke, so this certainly fits.”
Normal blood pressure is 120/80. In this study, severe high blood pressure was considered to be 168/110 or higher. High blood pressure is known to damage blood vessels and drinking alcohol may contribute to hardening of the arteries. It also may make the arterial plaques that cause strokes and heart attacks more unstable.
The study included too few women binge drinkers to determine whether the same patterns were true for women. However, the American Heart Association recommends that men and women consume no more than two drinks and one drink per day, respectively.
Binge drinking is not healthy. Uncontrolled high blood pressure is unhealthy. Together, they can be deadly.
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