Patient: My boyfriend is 30 years old, and was just diagnosed with stage 2 hypertension. He hasn’t started any medications yet, and we’ve been arguing about his alcohol consumption. He says he needs to cut back but then goes to the fridge and pours himself a whiskey on ice and argues that it’s okay for him to drink whiskey once a day if he wants to. I argue that with stage 2 hypertension alcohol needs to be ELIMINATED from his diet. Who is right? And, if he begins blood pressure regulatory meds, will he be able to drink? If so, how much?
Doctor: Although binge drinking has been show to be associated with hypertension, light and moderate alcohol consumptionhas been shown to beassociated with lower rates of cardiovasculardeaths than complete abstention. In fact in a recently published study looking at 245,000 US adults over a 13 year periodmoderate drinking was associated with the lowest cardiovascular mortality, and light drinking was also associated with a better outcome than abstention. Heavy drinking clearly is linked with an increased risk of adverse events. I therefore think that occasional consumption of small volumes of alcohol is probably better than complete abstention.