Pattern of alcohol drinking and progression of atherosclerosis

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Most studies that examine the role of alcohol consumption in atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease have overlooked the possible effect of drinking pattern. A study investigated the association between the habit of heavy acute intake of beer and spirits (bingeing) and the 4-year progression of carotid atherosclerosis in 1635 middle-aged Finnish men. Changes were estimated in maximum and mean intima-media thickness (IMT) and the maximum plaque height. After adjustment for age, baseline carotid atherosclerosis, and average weekly alcohol consumption level, the highest atherosclerosis progression in men was observed for those who usually consumed a whole bottle of vodka or more in 1 session. For beer bingeing (>6 beers at a time), the magnitude of IMT progression was even higher, although this association was only marginally significant because of smaller numbers. The associations were largely unaffected by adjustments for blood pressure, lipids, smoking, BMI, and medication. The magnitude of the difference was generally higher in a subgroup that was free of ischemic heart disease (IHD) at baseline. Thus, the pattern of drinking is associated with the progression of carotid atherosclerosis independently of the total level of alcohol consumption and risk factors.

Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 99, Vol. 19, Iss. 12, Pgs. 3001-3006

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