THURSDAY, Aug. 19 (HealthDay News) -- If you have high blood
pressure, binge drinking may greatly increase your risk of dying
from a stroke or heart attack, South Korean researchers report.
Their study found that for men whose blood pressure was at least
168/100, the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease was four
times higher than non-drinkers if they had downed six drinks on one
occasion. Consuming up to 12 drinks on one occasion raised their
risk of dying from stroke or heart attack up to 12-fold, the
"The pattern of drinking -- such as heavy binge drinking -- does matter, not total volume of alcohol per week in terms of risk of stroke mortality," said lead researcher Dr. Heechoul Ohrr, a professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine at Yonsei University College of Medicine in Seoul.
This is particularity important if you have high blood pressure,
Ohrr said. "If you are hypertensive, do not drink 12 drinks or more
on one occasion," he said.
The report is published in the Aug. 19 online edition of
For the study, Ohrr's team collected data on 6,100 men and women
living in a farming community. The researchers followed these
people for almost 21 years.
The participants were divided into four groups: nondrinkers,
non-binge drinkers, moderate binge drinkers (defined as having six
or more drinks on one occasion), and heavy binge drinkers (defined
as having 12 or more drinks on one occasion).
Among the men with high blood pressure, 17.8 percent were
moderate binge drinkers, and 3.9 percent were heavy binge drinkers
(a percentage similar to the men with normal blood pressure). As
for the women, there were too few who said they were binge drinkers
to be able to draw conclusions, the researchers said.
Ohrr's group found that compared with nondrinkers, the risk of
stroke among men with high blood pressure was increased threefold.
If these men drank six or more drinks at one time, their risk for
stroke increased fourfold, and with 12 drinks or more, the risk
"Any pattern of drinking, even heavy binge drinking, did not significantly increase the risk of dying of stroke: It was only 1.66 times higher than nondrinkers," Ohrr said.
"However, male heavy binge drinkers with hypertension had a 12-fold higher risk of cardiovascular mortality than nondrinkers with optimal blood pressure," he added.
Whether the findings are exclusive to this population isn't
known, and Ohrr's group stressed that the findings need to be
replicated in other populations.
"Heavy drinking is quite prevalent in South Korea," researchers wrote in the study, noting that the country's guidelines defines a "heavy drinker" as a man who consumes more than six glasses of soju(a distilled alcoholic beverage similar to
sake) or another drink on one occasion at least once a week, or a woman who consumes four glasses of soju or another drink at least once a week. Using that
criteria, nearly half (46.5 percent) of male adults and 9.2 percent
of female adults in South Korea are heavy drinkers, according to
data quoted in the study.
The American Heart Association advises drinking in moderation.
That's no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per
day for women. Binge drinking, for U.S. men, is defined as having
five or more drinks in a row; in women, as having four or more
drinks in a row.
A drink is one 12-ounce beer, one 4-ounce glass of wine, 1.5
ounces of 80-proof spirits or one ounce of 100-proof spirits, the
Dr. Larry B. Goldstein, director of Duke Stroke Center at Duke
University Medical Center and a spokesman for the American Heart
Association/American Stroke Association, said that "the message is
consistent with other studies."
"Overall, the long-term stroke risk may be lower among persons who consume small to moderate amounts of alcohol -- no more than two drinks per day for men and no more than one drink for non- pregnant women," he said.
Drinking more than that is associated with an increased risk of
stroke, Goldstein said. "There is no indication for those who don't
consume alcohol to start, but those who drink heavily should at
least moderate their consumption," he said.
For more information on stroke, visit the
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