Excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk of alcohol dependency, cardiovascular risk factors including high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, certain types of cancer, suicide and accidents, especially in men, says a study.
It has been suggested that alcohol intake may increase high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, the good cholesterol or decrease platelet stickiness.
Researchers compared data about participants alcohol consumption with carotid-femoral pulse wave artery velocity (PWV) measurements or pulse waves between the main arteries found in the neck and thigh. The greater the velocity, the stiffer the artery.
Alcohol intake was measured periodically across 25 years and the researchers subsequently looked at how those long-term intake patterns were associated with pulse wave velocity and its progression over a four-to-five-year interval.
For healthy men, drinking more than four drinks on any day and for healthy women having more than three falls under the category of ‘heavy drinking.’
Compared to females, males had much higher rates of heavy drinking and stiffer arteries, both at the first measurement and at later assessments.
Men who were consistently heavy drinkers had higher initial measures of arterial stiffness than men who tended to drink moderately.
Drinking too much can affect the elasticity of the arterial walls, arterial stiffness and prematurely age the arteries, interfering with blood flow.
“Arterial stiffness is an important indicator of cardiovascular aging and is known to be strongly associated with cardiovascular disease and related mortality,” said lead author Darragh O’Neill of University College London in England.
“Heavier alcohol intake may activate certain enzymes that would lead to collagen accumulation, which could, in turn, exacerbate the rate of arterial stiffening,” said Darragh O’Neill
The study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.