Drinkers’ flush linked to hypertension risks


WASHINGTON: People whose faces turn red when they drink alcohol are more likely to develop hypertension, or high blood pressure, a new study has found.

The finding, published online in the US journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research Tuesday, showed drinking that results in a red face indicates high sensitivity or even intolerance to alcohol.

“Facial flushing after drinking is always considered as a symptom of high alcohol sensitivity or even intolerance to alcohol, unless a patient is taking special medicine,” said Jong Sung Kim, head of the department of family medicine at Chungnam National University School of Medicine, in a statement. “The facial flushing response to drinking usually occurs in a person who cannot genetically break down acetaldehyde, the first metabolite of alcohol.”

In their research, researchers of the Republic of Korea analyzed data from 1,763 men, including 288 nondrinkers, 527 flushing drinkers and 948 nonflushing drinkers and found that flushers face higher risks of developing high blood pressure than nonflushers.

After adjusting for age, body mass index, exercise status, and smoking status, the risk of hypertension was significantly increased when flushers consumed more than four drinks per week, while to nonflushers, the risk increased with consuming more than eight drinks per week, the researchers said.

The researchers said these results indicate that facial flushing after drinking may potentially serve as a marker of risk for hypertension associated with drinking.

“If you or your patients have facial flushing, the risk of hypertension can increase even if you drink less than those who do not have facial flushing,” said Kyung Hwan Cho, president of the Korean Academy of Family Medicine. “[Under these circumstances, I would] recommend limiting your or their drinking amount even more to prevent the development of hypertension.”



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