London: Men with heavy alcohol intake over the years may be at higher risk of developing arterial stiffness, premature ageing of arteries, increasing their risk for heart disease, says a study. The findings showed that drinking too much can affect the elasticity of the arterial walls, causing arterial stiffness, and prematurely age the arteries, interfering with blood flow.
It has been suggested alcohol intake may increase high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, the good cholesterol, or decrease platelet stickiness. “Conversely, heavier alcohol intake may activate certain enzymes that would lead to collagen accumulation, which could, in turn, exacerbate the rate of arterial stiffening,” said lead author Darragh O’Neill, epidemiological researcher at the University College London.
Former male drinkers were also at risk as compared to moderate drinkers who were in early old age. However, this was not observed in women. For the study, published in Journal of the American Heart Association, the team looked at alcohol drinking habits of 3,869 participants, of whom 73 per cent were males aged between 30 and 50.
Researchers compared data about participants’ alcohol consumption with carotid-femoral pulse wave artery velocity (PWV) measurements, or pulse waves between the main arteries found in the neck and thigh.
The greater the velocity, the stiffer the artery. Alcohol intake was measured periodically across 25 years and the researchers subsequently looked at how those long-term intake patterns were associated with pulse wave velocity and its progression over a four-to-five-year interval.
Excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk for alcohol dependency, cardiovascular risk factors including high blood pressure and obesity, stroke, certain types of cancer, suicide and accidents, the researchers said.