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Hypertension. 2001 May;37(5):1242-50.

Alcohol consumption and the incidence of hypertension: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study.

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  • 1Division of Cardiology, Hospital de ClĂ­nicas de Porto Alegre, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.


A close relationship between alcohol consumption and hypertension has been established, but it is unclear whether there is a threshold level for this association. In addition, it has infrequently been studied in longitudinal studies and in black people. In a cohort study, 8334 of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study participants, aged 45 to 64 years at baseline, who were free of hypertension and coronary heart disease had their blood pressures ascertained after 6 years of follow-up. Alcohol consumption was assessed by dietary interview. The type of alcoholic beverage predominantly consumed was defined by the source of the largest amount of ethanol consumed. Incident hypertension was defined as a systolic blood pressure >/=140 mm Hg or diastolic blood pressure >/=90 mm Hg or use of antihypertensive medication. There was an increased risk of hypertension in those who consumed large amounts of ethanol (>/=210 g per week) compared with those who did not consume alcohol over the 6 years of follow-up. The adjusted odds ratios (95% confidence interval) were 1.2 (0.85 to 1.67) for white men, 2.02 (1.08 to 3.79) for white women, and 2.31 (1.11 to 4.86) for black men. Only 4 black women reported drinking >210 g ethanol per week. At low to moderate levels of alcohol consumption (1 to 209 g per week), the adjusted odds ratios (95% confidence interval) were 0.88 (0.71 to 1.08) in white men, 0.89 (0.73 to 1.09) in white women, 1.71 (1.11 to 2.64) in black men, and 0.88 (0.59 to 1.33) in black women. Systolic and diastolic blood pressures were higher in black men who consumed low to moderate amounts of alcohol compared with the nonconsumers but not in the 3 other race-gender strata. Models with polynomial terms of alcohol exposure suggested a nonlinear association in white and black men. Higher levels of consumption of all types of alcoholic beverages were associated with a higher risk of hypertension for all race-gender strata. The consumption of alcohol in amounts >/=210 g per week is an independent risk factor for hypertension in free-living North American populations. The consumption of low to moderate amounts of alcohol also appears to be associated with a higher risk of hypertension in black men.

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