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The Risks of Aging Heart Arteries Due to Heavy Drinking

Update Date: Feb 22, 2017 08:25 PM EST
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Cardiovascular diseases are one of the leading cause of death worldwide. Initial studies revealed that moderate drinking can have a positive effect on cardiovascular health. However, new research is linking alcohol consumption to the stiffness of the arteries that can eventually lead into a cardiovascular ailment.

Medical News Today reports that in the United States alone, cardiovascular disease accounts for 1 in every 4 deaths. Every year, 610,000 people die every year from CVD-related illnesses. More than half of these deaths are recorded in men.

Observational studies from the past revealed that drinking alcohol in moderation can bring a positive effect on the health of the cardiovascular system. However, the impact of drinking levels and alcohol consumption over time reveals that it is one of the links that causes arterial stiffness, a very important mechanism in the cardiovascular system, and ca eventually lead into ailments concerning the heart.

The research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. The longitudinal study led by Dr. Darragh O'Neill, an epidemiological researcher at the University College London in the United Kingdom aimed to define the link between alcohol consumption over 25 years and changes in arterial stiffness, Science Daily reports.

The stiffness of the arteries can lead to variations in blood pressure. The study examined the clinical data from British civil servants, which were assessed for arterial stiffness every 4 to 5 years by measuring their pulse wave velocity (PWV). This calculates the rate at which the pressure waves move through the vessels. High PWV rates suggest a stiffness in the arteries.

The majority of the participants are non-smokers aged 30 to 50. However, 68 percent of the men and 74 percent of the women included in the study failed to meet the recommended exercise requirement and 1 in 10 of the participants had type 2 diabetes. Men tended to be heavy drinkers too, compared to women. The study also revealed that heavy drinking, mostly in men can cause the arteries to age prematurely.

Consistent heavy drinking does not only increase cardiovascular risk in men, it ages the arteries and interferes with the normal blood flow affecting the elasticity of the arterial walls. Yet, a detailed explanation of how alcohol causes such effects into the arteries remains to be unknown.

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