New research has found that having more than one alcoholic drink daily increases the risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) in people with diabetes.
The study, published online Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found that people with type II diabetes who had more than eight drinks a week (moderate drinkers) had over 60% higher risk of having high blood pressure.
In addition, the study found that they also had more severe high blood pressure when they drank eight or more drinks a week.
Senior author of the study Dr. Matthew Singleton of Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C. said, “While prior literature has demonstrated that heavy alcohol consumption is associated with [high blood pressure], even moderate alcohol consumption may be associated with increased odds of [high blood pressure] in patients with diabetes and heightened cardiovascular risk.”
He pointed out that it is important for doctors to discuss the risks and benefits of alcohol consumption with diabetics.
High blood pressure, aka hypertension, has been associated with heavy alcohol consumption (more than 14 drinks a week) for more than 100 years.
The current study analyzed a previous study conducted on over 10,000 adults (average age 63) with type II diabetes in the United States and Canada. Nearly two-thirds of the volunteers were men. The data was analyzed between 2001 and 2005.
The participants were divided into three groups, considering the amount of alcohol they drank – light (one to seven drinks weekly), moderate (eight to 14 drinks weekly), and heavy (15 or more drinks a week). One alcoholic drink is considered a 12-ounce beer, 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.
Most participants were already taking high blood pressure medications.
Dr. Singleton said, “We found that, in addition to heavy alcohol consumption being associated with [high blood pressure], even moderate alcohol consumption was associated with increased odds of [high blood pressure] in patients with diabetes.”
Uncontrolled or untreated hypertension could lead to stroke or heart attack.
Dr. John Osborne, director of cardiology at State of the Heart Cardiology in Dallas, said the study has a few limitations, such as people reporting their own alcohol consumption and the study collected the data just one time.
He also said that the study was not designed to find a direct cause-and-effect link.
Still, Dr. Osborne said, the “study adds value to the evidence on alcohol and high blood pressure and gives us food for thought. It may be that the thresholds for alcohol consumption might need to be reconsidered.”
However, he said he did not expect the guidelines to change based only on one study, stating that it is probably not a bad idea to remain alight drinker if you have type II diabetes. Dr. Osborne advised, “If you’re going to try to remain a light drinker, it’s probably better to have one drink a day than seven on Saturday night.”