April 18, 2005 -- Beer and red wine can raise your blood pressure, but
researchers say alcohol is still heart healthy in the right amount.
It's well known that alcohol can raise blood
pressure, but it's been unclear if different types of alcohol have
the same effect, says Renate R. Zilkens, PhD, research fellow in the School of
Medicine and Pharmacology at the University of Western Australia.
Zilkens and colleagues wanted to see if the antioxidant chemicals in red winered wine could offset some of
the blood pressure effects of alcohol. So they compared it with beer.
The researchers divided 24 healthy men into four different groups for four
Some men drank no wine or beer and served as a comparison group
Some men drank 13 ounces of red wine daily
Some men drank 13 ounces of red wine with the alcohol removed to see if the
alcohol accounted for any blood pressure effect
Some men drank 38 ounces of beer daily (just over three beers)
The men made no other changes in their lifestyle other than limiting tea to
less than 2 cups a day (since tea can also raise blood pressure) and avoiding
antioxidants (to avoid any potential effect on blood vessels).
The men wore blood pressure and heart rate monitors 24 hours a day.
Blood Pressure, Heart Rate Climb
Compared with the men who did not drink any alcohol, the red wine drinkers
had a nearly a 2.5 point jump in their systolic blood pressure. Beer drinkers'
blood pressure rose nearly two points.
Systolic blood pressure is the top number of a blood pressure reading. It
measures the pressure in blood vessels when the heart pumps.
While this doesn't sound like much, even a few points can make a difference
in people who have borderline or high blood pressure. Ideally, blood pressure
should be less than 120/80. Blood pressure between 120/80 and 140/90 is called
Heart rate also rose. The researchers tested heart rate during sleep to rule
out any effect of activity. Red wine drinkers' heart rate climbed five points
for eight to 10 hours after drinking. Beer drinkers' heart rate rose four