Search   |  Advanced

Research Summary

The Effects of Alcohol Use on Blood Pressure:  Does Gender Matter?

In this study, researchers assessed whether the effects of alcohol use on blood pressure differ by gender. They examined data from 2650 subjects who had participated in a national health and nutrition study and reported consuming about ≥1 drinks per day in the past year.  

  • Twenty-one percent of subjects had hypertension.
  • Systolic blood pressure was significantly higher in men who drank ≥3 drinks per day than in men who drank 1 drink per day (e.g., about 125 mm Hg with 1 drink, 128 mm Hg with 3 drinks, and 131 mm Hg with ≥4 drinks per day). Results were similar for diastolic blood pressure.
  • Alcohol use did not significantly affect blood pressure in women.

Comments:

The results of this study should be interpreted with caution. The analyses were limited to subjects who consumed about ≥1 drink per day, a group representing a small proportion of the U.S. population. Further, no information on people who drank less or who abstained was provided. Thus, the author’s statement that "alcohol intake of up to 2 drinks per day has no effect on blood pressure" cannot be supported. Similarly, while blood pressure did not differ among women who drank 1 drink per day and those who drank more, a significant difference might have been observed at a lower threshold: it is possible that women who consumed <1 drink per day had higher blood pressure than those who abstained, but this was not tested.

R. Curtis Ellison, MD

Reference:

McFarlane SI, von Gizycki H, Salifu M, et al.  Alcohol consumption and blood pressure in the adult US population: assessment of gender-related effects. J Hypertens. 2007;25(5):965–970.


logos