BACKGROUND Although heavy alcohol consumption is associated with hypertension, the impact of lighter consumption on blood pressure (BP) is controversial. The protective effect of light alcohol consumption on cardiovascular disease described in previous studies could be, in part, mediated by effects of alcohol on BP. However, only a few studies investigating the association between alcohol and BP included elderly subjects, despite their higher risk of hypertension sequelae. Accordingly, we evaluated the relationship between alcohol consumption and 24-hour ambulatory BP in a community-based elderly cohort. METHODS Among the participants in the Cardiac Abnormalities and Brain Lesion study, 553 subjects (mean age = 70.6±9.6 years) who underwent 24-hour ambulatory BP monitoring were examined. Alcohol consumption was categorized as (i) none (reference; <1 drink/month); (ii) very light consumption (1 drink/month to 1 drink/week); (iii) light consumption (2 drinks/week to 1 drink/day); (iv) moderate-to-heavy consumption (>1 drink/day). Former drinkers were excluded. RESULTS After adjustment for relevant covariables, mean values of daytime diastolic BP (DBP), nighttime DBP, and 24-hour DBP were significantly higher in moderate-to-heavy drinkers than in the reference group, whereas systolic BP parameters were not significantly different across consumption groups. Daytime systolic BP and DBP variability (SD of the measurements) were significantly lower in very light drinkers than in the reference group, independent of potential confounders. CONCLUSIONS Moderate-to-heavy alcohol consumption was associated with higher DBP values. Very light alcohol consumption was associated with reduced daytime BP variability. The latter association may contribute to the known beneficial cardiovascular effects of light alcohol consumption.
- ambulatory blood pressure monitoring
- blood pressure
- blood pressure variability
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine