Young adults in their twenties who regularly binge drink may have higher blood pressure and increased risk of developing hypertension, a new study has warned.
Previous studies in Canada and the US have shown that about four in ten young adults aged 18 to 24 are frequent binge drinkers.
Researchers from University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM) in Canada have demonstrated that binge drinking - consuming five or more alcoholic beverages in less than two hours - may have an effect on blood pressure, which can increase the risk of developing hypertension and chronic diseases related to hypertension.
Data on alcohol consumption at age 20 were collected from 756 participants. Data were collected again at age 24, at which time participants’ systolic blood pressure was also taken.
Systolic blood pressure measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (when the heart muscle contracts), and it should be below 140 millimetres of mercury. A blood pressure reading of more than 140 over 90 indicates high blood pressure.
The latter number, diastolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats (when the heart muscle is resting between beats and refilling with blood).
“We found that the blood pressure of young adults aged 20 to 24 who binge drink was 2 to 4 millimetres of mercury higher than non-binge drinkers,” said Jennifer O’Loughlin from CRCHUM.
“Our findings show that more than one in four young adults who binge drink meet the criterion for pre-hypertension (a systolic blood pressure between 120 and 139 millimetres of mercury). This is worrisome because this condition can progress to hypertension, which in turn can cause heart disease and premature death,” she added.
The study also found that 85 per cent of young adults who drink heavily at age 20 maintain this behaviour at age 24.
“Poor diet, salt intake, and obesity are predictors of high blood pressure. Since we know there is a link between higher blood pressure and the risk of developing chronic diseases, clinicians should ask young people about their alcohol consumption,” said O’Loughlin.
The findings were published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.