Long-term effects of binge drinking: High blood pressure, risk for cardiovascular disease

According to the CDC, one in six adults in the U.S. binge drinks at least once every week. Binge drinking typically means men consume five drinks or more or when women consume four drinks or more within two hours. Now researchers at Vanderbilt University are looking at the long-term health consequences.

Unintentional injuries, such as car crashes, falls, and alcohol poisoning are just some of the things that can happen immediately after someone binge drinks. But what are the long-term effects?

Daniel Munoz, MD, Vanderbilt University Medical Center says, "There are some obvious ways and then there are some ways that aren't so obvious and I think the blood pressure story is one of those not so obvious ways."

Researchers looked at data from more than 4,500 adults, ages 18 to 45, and found those who binge drink frequently were more likely to have higher blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar than non-binge drinkers. These are all factors that increase someone's cardiovascular disease risk.

"Even small differences over time can impact somebody's vulnerability to developing heart disease," Dr. Munoz continued.

Research suggests development of high blood pressure before age 45 was significantly associated with higher risk of cardiovascular death later in life. Many experts say it's ok to have a drink now and then, but remember moderation is the key.

The study also looked at the effects by gender. Men who binge drink have a higher chance of developing high blood pressure and women had higher blood glucose levels than non-binge drinkers.

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