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New studies have found that significantly reducing your alcohol intake can lower your blood pressure and reduce the chances of having a heart attack.
Research published in the British Medical Journal has examined over 260,000 participants and found that reducing alcohol consumption, even for those who are initially only light drinkers, can lower blood pressure and the risk of coronary heart disease.
This is different to the findings of previous studies and has startled scientists involved in the field. Other research has previously suggested that drinking 12 to 25 units of alcohol a week can be good for the heart.
Dr Gerald Carr-White, consultant cardiologist at London Bridge Hospital reveals the effect both light and heavy drinking has on heart health, and how to lower your individual risk of heart disease.
Drinking excess levels of alcohol can increase your risk of narrow arteries, which supply blood to the heart and which would mean an increased risk of heart attack. Narrow arteries caused through drinking too much alcohol can also increase your risk of stroke, high blood pressure and make you more likely to suffer from tachyarrythmias (episodes where your heart speeds up), not to mention put you at higher risk of diabetes and heart weakness or failure.
If you’re wondering about your own personal levels of alcohol intake, then we can clear this up for you. There is an obvious difference between binge drinking and those of us who enjoy a couple of glasses over the weekend. The most important factor when it comes to alcohol and blood pressure appears to be the total amount of alcohol you drink, rather than whether it is constant or episodic.
Binge drinking a very large amount of alcohol does come with other risks. As well as vulnerability to accidents and crime, it increases your risk of inflammation in the swallowing tube and stomach and can also lead to sudden rather than long-term liver injury,
A number of theories have been suggested as to how alcohol causes problems to the heart, including oxidative damage (the body’s inability to break down potentially dangerous and reactive oxygen levels), deposition of triglycerides (the breaking down of fats which lead to higher cholesterol levels), altered fatty acid extraction (the body’s inability to totally get rid of fatty acids before they bond and contribute to high cholesterol levels) and impaired protein synthesis (where the bodily cells cannot build their own specific proteins as well).