Alcohol Raises Blood Pressure

Published Online: Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Australian researchers have found that it is alcohol in general and not necessarily an ingredient specific to beer or wine that causes an increase in blood pressure. Renate R. Zilkens, PhD, and colleagues from the University of Western Australia School of Medicine and Pharmacology monitored for 4 weeks 24 healthy, nonsmoking men aged 20 to 65 with normal blood pressure and no history of heart disease. The men were randomly assigned to 4 different drinking groups: 13 oz (half a bottle) of red wine per day, 13 oz of nonalcoholic red wine, 37 oz (3 cans) of beer per day, or no alcohol. Each man was monitored for blood pressure and blood vessel functioning, as well as providing blood and urine samples.

The beer-drinking group had a systolic pressure increase of 2.9 mm Hg, while the wine drinkers had a systolic pressure increase of 1.9 mm Hg. The nonalcoholic wine group had no increase in blood pressure. Beer drinkers also experienced an increase in sleeping heart rate of 5 beats per minute, while wine drinkers experienced a 4.4-beats-per-minute increase. The researchers concluded that alcohol itself raises blood pressure, not specifically wine or beer. They noted, however, that these results apply to men with normal blood pressure.

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