Drinking History Is Related to Persistent Blood Pressure Dysregulation in Postwithdrawal Alcoholics

Authors

  • Andrea C. King,

    1. Behavioral Sciences Laboratories, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
    2. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
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  • Oscar A. Parsons,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
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  • Nancy C. Bernardy,

    1. Behavioral Sciences Laboratories, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
    2. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
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  • William R. Lovallo

    1. Behavioral Sciences Laboratories, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
    2. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
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Reprint requests: Oscar A. Parsons, PhD, Center for Alcohol and Drug-Related Studies, 800 N.E. 15th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73104.

Abstract

We have previously demonstrated that alcoholics with transitory (< 72 hr) elevations in blood pressure (BP) during withdrawal continue to show residual cardiovascular dysregulation up to 4 weeks of abstinence. The present study replicates and extends these findings. Alcoholic inpatients were divided into three subgroups (ns= 14) based on BP during the first 72 hr of withdrawal: transitory hypertensives (tHTs; BP > 160/95 mm Hg), transitory borderline hypertensives (tBHs; 140/90 leqslant R: less-than-or-eq, slant BP < 160/95), and normotensives (NTs; all BPs < 140/90). All patients had normal resting pressures after 72 hr of withdrawal. At 3–4 weeks postadmission, the alcoholics and 14 nonalcoholic controls (CONTs) were tested at rest and during a 5-min handgrip task. The tHTs showed an exaggerated systolic and diastolic BP response to handgrip compared with NTs and CONTs, with tBHs intermediate (ps < 0.05). Drinking history showed the tHTs had the highest reported level of alcohol consumption and severity of withdrawal symptoms (ps < 0.05). Regression analyses indicated that consumption of hard liquor was the variable most predictive of admission BPs; further, parental history of hypertension potentiated this relationship for systolic BP. Age and consumption of nicotine and caffeine were not significant predictors of admission BP. The results suggest a persistent cardiovascular dysregulation in alcoholics showing transient hypertensive withdrawal BPs. These alcoholics may be at increased risk for future alcohol-related cardiovascular disorder.

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