Hypertension Associated with Alcohol Consumption Based on the Facial Flushing Reaction to Drinking
Alcohol is a risk factor for hypertension. Facial flushing after drinking is a typical symptom of high alcohol sensitivity. This study assessed the role of the facial flushing response in the relationship between alcohol consumption and hypertension.
The subjects were 1,763 men (288 nondrinkers, 527 flushing drinkers, 948 nonflushing drinkers) who had received a health checkup. Data were collected from the subjects' medical records. The risk of hypertension related to weekly drinking amount in nonflushers and flushers was analyzed and compared with that in nondrinkers.
After adjusting for age, body mass index, exercise status, and smoking status, the risk of hypertension was significantly increased when flushers consumed more than 4 drinks per week (more than 4 and up to 8 drinks: odds ratio [OR] = 2.23; above 8 drinks: OR = 2.35). In contrast, in nonflushers, the risk was increased with alcohol consumption of more than 8 drinks (OR = 1.61) per week. The OR (flushers/nonflushers) for hypertension was also increased: more than 4 and up to 8 drinks, 2.27 and above 8 drinks, 1.52.
These findings suggest that hypertension associated with alcohol consumption has a lower threshold value and higher risk in flushers than in nonflushers. Clinicians should consider evaluating patients' flushing response as well as drinking amount in a daily practice for health promotion.