Effect of Alcohol Abstinence on Blood Pressure
Assessment by 24-Hour Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring
Abstract—Several studies have shown that cessation of alcohol drinking reduces blood pressure (BP). However, attempts to reproduce these findings by ambulatory BP monitoring (ABPM) have shown inconsistent results. The aim of the present study was to assess the effect of 1 month of proven abstinence from alcohol on the 24-hour BP profile in heavy alcohol drinkers. Forty-two men who were heavy drinkers (>100 g of pure ethanol per day) were consecutively admitted to a general ward for voluntary alcohol detoxification. On the day of admission, they received a total dose of 2 g/kg of ethanol diluted in orange juice in 5 divided doses, and a 24-hour ABPM was performed. A new 24-hour BP monitoring in the same environmental conditions was performed after 1 month of proven alcohol abstinence while the subjects were receiving the same amount of fluid but without the addition of alcohol. After 1 month of proven alcohol abstinence, BP and heart rate (HR) significantly decreased. The reduction was 7.2 mm Hg for 24-hour systolic BP (SBP) (95% CI, 4.5 to 9.9), 6.6 mm Hg for 24-hour diastolic BP (DBP) (95% CI, 4.2 to 9.0), and 7.9 bpm for HR (95% CI, 5.1 to 10.7). The proportion of alcoholic patients considered hypertensive on the basis of 24-hour BP criteria (daytime SBP ≥135 mm Hg or daytime DBP ≥85 mm Hg) fell from 42% during alcohol drinking to 12% after 1 month of complete abstinence. Abstinence did not modify either the long-term BP variability, assessed by SD of 24-hour BP, or its circadian profile. We conclude that abstinence in heavy alcohol drinkers significantly reduces BP assessed by 24-hour ABPM and that this reduction is clinically relevant. These results show that heavy alcohol consumption has an important effect on BP, and thus cessation of alcohol consumption must be recommended as a priority for hypertensive alcohol drinkers.
- hypertension, alcohol-induced
- blood pressure determination
- blood pressure monitoring, ambulatory
- Received June 25, 1998.
- Revision received July 27, 1998.
- Accepted October 19, 1998.