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Research Summary

Alcohol, Hypertension, and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality

Heavy drinking is associated with dose-dependent increases in blood pressure. However, the relationship between drinking and mortality among patients with hypertension is unclear. To assess this relationship, researchers used self-reported data from 14,125 male participants in the Physicians’ Health Study with a history of current or past treatment for hypertension and without myocardial infarction, stroke, cancer, or liver disease at baseline.

In analyses adjusted for potential confounders (e.g., age, smoking, diabetes), risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality and total mortality was significantly lower for those who drank 1–6 drinks per week (relative risk, RR, 0.6 and 0.7, respectively) and those who drank >=1 drinks per day (RR 0.6 and 0.7, respectively) than for those who rarely or never drank.


The authors noted several limitations common to observational studies of alcohol consumption and health outcomes, and also stated the limits of applying results seen in physicians to broader primary care populations. Nonetheless, in this cohort of physicians with hypertension who consumed low amounts (only 3% drank >=2 drinks per day), moderate alcohol consumption appeared to reduce risk of CVD mortality and total mortality. Clinicians should individualize recommendations about alcohol use and help patients determine whether the cardiovascular benefits from moderate drinking outweigh any potential risks.

Joseph Conigliaro, MD, MPH


Malinski MK, Sesso HD, Lopez-Jimenez F, et al. Alcohol consumption and cardiovascular disease mortality in hypertensive men. Arch Intern Med. 2004;164(6):623–628.
(view abstract)