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Alcohol Alcohol. 2006 Jan-Feb;41(1):5-10. Epub 2005 Oct 18.

Hypertension in early alcohol withdrawal in chronic alcoholics.

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  • 1Alcohol Unit, University La Sapienza, Rome.



Hypertension is an established risk factor in chronic alcoholics, but little is known about the relationship between blood pressure (BP), severity of their alcohol abuse, and severity of alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS).


BP was assessed daily for 18 days in a series of chronic alcoholics on early alcohol withdrawal (AW), while also assessing the severity of their AWS on the CIWA-Ar scale.


A sharp and sustained decrease in BP was observed after AW; at T0, BP had increased in 55% of patients, and at T18 in 21%. The variation of BP is partially explained by years of at-risk drinking and AWS severity, but other factors may play a role in hypertension in alcoholics, as a large amount of BP variation was not explained by the alcohol-abuse-related parameters that we studied. BP values were not correlated with cigarette smoking, anxiety, or depression. Hypertension found in 'detoxified' alcoholics (approximately 20%) may be related to alcohol-independent hypertension or to a long-lasting alcohol-induced derangement of the BP regulating mechanisms. Further research is needed in these patients to elucidate the mechanisms of persistent hypertension and to set up a treatment protocol. At present, careful monitoring is advisable, as well as pharmacological treatment for moderate or severe hypertension; often a modification of life-style is needed which includes physical activity and possibly sodium (Na) restriction, since hypertension in detoxified alcoholics seems to be Na sensitive.


Complete alcohol abstinence must be recommended to all hypertensive alcoholics, as AW-induced transient hypertension was found to be harmless in all our subjects, and abstinence leads to a complete recovery from hypertension in most cases.

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