Young people who regularly drink large amounts of alcohol are more likely to have higher than normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels, two important factors, study shows risk of cardiovascular disease. In adults with heavy and regular alcohol consumption, the risk is the same.
Numerous studies have shown that people who drink alcoholic beverages moderately, i.e. one to two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women, are less at risk of dying prematurely from a heart disease. For example, a large study of 333,247 Americans, recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, reported a 20% reduction in mortality risk among light to moderate drinkers, compared to people who didn’t. never drank alcohol in their life. At these low doses, alcohol increases HDL-cholesterol levels, improves glycemic control and exerts anticoagulant and anti-inflammatory actions, which overall contributes to reducing the risk of cardiovascular event, in particular heart attack. myocardium.
More than three glasses of alcohol and it’s the heart that toasts
However, the window of benefits offered by alcohol is very narrow: excessive consumption of alcohol (three drinks and more per day for men, two drinks and more for women) cancels out any protective effect and on the contrary becomes very harmful for health. On the one hand, the metabolism of alcohol generates acetaldehyde, a very toxic molecule which considerably increases the risk of several cancers, in particular those of the digestive system (mouth, larynx, esophagus, colon, liver) and of the breast. . On the other hand, the heart and vessels are not spared either, because alcohol abuse promotes the development of several pathologies of the cardiovascular system that increase the risk of premature death, including atherosclerosis, hypertension , certain cardiomyopathies and arrhythmias.
Regular cooked: twice as likely to have a heart attack
This negative impact of excess alcohol is also seen in people who drink a lot of alcohol in a short period of time, commonly referred to as “binges” or binge drinking (six or more drinks for men and four or more for women during a single event). During these binges, the amount of alcohol consumed exceeds the detoxification capacity of the liver, and there is then an accumulation of large quantities of acetaldehyde in the blood, at levels which remain high even several hours after the end. Of the party.
A recent study compared the cardiovascular health of people aged 18 to 45 who did and did not participate in occasional binge drinking. Researchers observed that those who regularly consumed large amounts of alcohol in this way (once a month or more) had higher than normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels, compared to those who never drank alcohol. in this way. These observations are worrying, since the frequency of these binges has increased considerably in recent years and it is well documented that high blood pressure before the age of 45 is associated with a significant increase in the risk premature cardiovascular mortality. In this sense, it should be noted that a recent study reported that people who frequently participate in drinking parties are twice as likely to suffer a myocardial infarction.
Heavy drinking isn’t just a matter of age. People who chain glasses of alcohol in a short time, for example, five glasses during a business meal or an aperitif, also expose themselves to problems. Such consumption, qualified as “significant occasional alcohol consumption” (API) poses the same risks for the brain as being drunk.
No 0 alcohol, but controlled consumption and a healthy lifestyle
For those who enjoy alcohol, it is therefore better to drink small amounts of alcohol regularly (1-2 drinks for men, 1 drink or less for women) rather than consuming it in large quantities on one occasion. And also remember that to be truly beneficial, alcohol consumption (preferably red wine) must be part of an overall healthy lifestyle, including a plant-rich diet, regular physical activity, maintaining normal body weight and, of course, no smoking.
XiB et al. Relationship of alcohol consumption to all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer-related mortality in US adults. J. Am. Coll. Cardiol. 2017; 70: 913-922.
Piano MR et al. Effects of repeated binge drinking on blood pressure levels and other cardiovascular health metrics in young adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2011-2014. J. Am. Heart Assoc. 2018; 7:pii:e008733.
Ilic M et al. Myocardial infarction and alcohol consumption: A case-control study. PLoS One 2018; 13: e0198129.