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Hypertension associated with alcohol consumption based on the facial flushing reaction to drinking

Alcohol is a risk factor for hypertension and facial flushing after drinking is a typical symptom of high alcohol sensitivity.

A study assessed the role of the facial flushing response in the relationship between alcohol consumption and hypertension. The study subjects were 1,763 men (288 nondrinkers, 527 flushing drinkers, 948 nonflushing drinkers) who had received a health checkup. Data were collected from the subjects’ medical records.

The risk of hypertension related to weekly drinking amount in nonflushers and flushers was analysed and compared with that in nondrinkers. After adjusting for age, body mass index, exercise status, and smoking status, the risk of hypertension was significantly increased when flushers consumed more than 4 drinks per week (more than 4 and up to 8 drinks: odds ratio [OR] = 2.23; above 8 drinks: OR = 2.35). In contrast, in nonflushers, the risk was increased with alcohol consumption of more than 8 drinks (OR = 1.61) per week. The OR (flushers/nonflushers) for hypertension was also increased: more than 4 and up to 8 drinks, 2.27 and above 8 drinks, 1.52.

The authors conclude that hypertension associated with alcohol consumption has a lower threshold value and higher risk in flushers than in nonflushers. They state that clinicians should consider evaluating patients’ flushing response as well as drinking amount for health promotion.

Source: Hypertension Associated with Alcohol Consumption Based on the Facial Flushing Reaction to Drinking. Jin-Gyu Jung, Jong-Sung Kim, Young-Seok Kim, Mi-Kyeong Oh, Seok-Joon Yoon. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Article first published online: 20 Nov 2013.

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