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Cardiovascular and cutaneous responses to the combination of alcohol and soft drinks: The way to orthostatic intolerance?

Acute ingestion of alcohol is often accompanied by cardiovascular dysregulation, malaise and even syncope (passing out). The full hemodynamic and cutaneous responses to the combination of alcohol and sugar (i.e., alcopops), a common combination in young people, and the mechanisms for the propensity to orthostatic intolerance are not well established. A study therefore evaluated the cardiovascular and cutaneous responses to alcopops in young subjects.

Cardiovascular and cutaneous responses were assessed in 24 healthy young subjects (12 men, 12 women) sitting comfortably and during prolonged active standing with a 30-min baseline and 130 min following ingestion of 400 mL of either: water, water + 48 g sugar, water + vodka (1.28 of body weight, providing 0.4 g, water + sugar + vodka, according to a randomized cross-over design.

Compared to alcohol alone, vodka + sugar induced a lower breath alcohol concentration, blood pressure and total peripheral resistance (p < 0.05), a higher cardiac output and heart rate (p < 0.05) both in sitting position and during active standing. In sitting position vodka + sugar consumption also led to a greater increase in skin blood flow and hand temperature (p < 0.05) and a decrease in baroreflex sensitivity (p < 0.05). Similar results were observed between men and women both in sitting position and during active standing.

Despite lower breath alcohol concentration, ingestion of alcopops induced acute vasodilation and hypotension in sitting position and an encroach of the hemodynamic reserve during active standing. Even if subjects did not feel any signs of syncope these results could be of clinical importance with higher doses of alcohol or if combined to other hypotensive challenges, the authors conclude.

Source: Cardiovascular and Cutaneous Responses to the Combination of Alcohol and Soft Drinks: The Way to Orthostatic Intolerance? Maufrais C, Charriere N, Montani JP. Front Physiol. 2017 Nov 10;8:860. doi: 10.3389/ fphys.2017.00860. eCollection 2017.

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