Tags: Heart Disease | long-term | heavy | drinking | harms | prematurely | ages

Long-Term Heavy Drinking May Age Arteries

Long-Term Heavy Drinking May Age Arteries

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By    |   Tuesday, 21 February 2017 11:55 AM


Men who drink heavily over the years may prematurely age their arteries, putting them at increased risk for heart disease, says a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.


Researchers found that males who drank heavily were at risk for accelerated rates of arterial stiffness in early old age compared with those of the same age who drank moderately. The problem wasn't found in women.


The study examined alcohol drinking habits over 25 years, and while it found that heavy drinking damaged arteries, its findings also supported previous research which found that moderate drinking reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease.


In the new study, researchers compared data about participants' alcohol consumption with carotid-femoral pulse wave artery velocity (PWV) measurements, or pulse waves between the main arteries found in the neck and thigh.


The greater the velocity or speed, the stiffer the artery. Alcohol intake was measured periodically across 25 years, and the researchers looked at how those long-term intake patterns were associated with pulse wave velocity and its progression over a 4-to-5-year interval. They found that arteries of men who were heavy drinkers were stiffer than arteries of those who drank moderately.


How alcohol may impact arterial health is unclear, said Darragh O'Neill, Ph.D., lead study author and epidemiological researcher at University College London. "It's been suggested alcohol intake may increase high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels — the good cholesterol — or decrease platelet stickiness.


"Conversely, heavier alcohol intake may activate certain enzymes that would lead to collagen accumulation, which could, in turn exacerbate the rate of arterial stiffening," O'Neill said.


Numerous studies have suggested that moderate drinking is actually good for the heart. The American Heart Association defines moderate alcohol consumption as an average of one to two drinks per day for men, and one drink per day for women. A drink is 12 ounces of beer, four ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits.


Two recent Norwegian studies found that moderate drinking is better for the heart than not drinking at all. Together, they found that those who drank three to five drinks a week were 33 percent less prone to heart failure than those who didn't drink at all or drank infrequently.


In the case of heart attacks, the risk was reduced by 28 percent with each additional drink. The risk of heart problems was highest for those who rarely or never drank alcohol, and for those who had a problem with alcohol.
 

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Men who drink heavily over the years may prematurely age their arteries, putting them at increased risk for heart disease, says a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Researchers found that males who drank heavily were at risk for accelerated...
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