Cardiologist Guy Mayeda Interviewed by HealthDay

Binge Drinking May Boost Blood Pressure in Young Men
Study didn’t find same effect in young women or teens of either sex

By Tara Haelle, HealthDay Reporter


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TUESDAY, Oct. 21, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Binge drinking among young adult men may lead to increased blood pressure, according to a new study.

But binge drinking didn’t cause a similar rise in blood pressure for young adult women or for teenagers, according to the study. In fact, when young adult women drank lightly or moderately, their risk of high blood pressure was cut in half, the study found.

“This finding parallels studies in older adult men and women,” said lead researcher Dr. Sarah Twichell, a clinical fellow in pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital. In older adult men, she said, the more alcohol they consume, the more their risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) increases.

Although this study found a connection between heavy alcohol consumption and an increased risk of high blood pressure in young adults, the study did not prove alcohol was the direct cause of higher blood pressure.

For a long time, researchers have been aware of a link between heavy alcohol consumption and high blood pressure, said Dr. Guy Mayeda, a cardiologist at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, but this study reveals how early it can start.

“The thought is that in your 20s, you’re invincible and immune to all these middle-aged diseases like heart disease and hypertension, but this study shows that young adult males who binge drink have higher instances of blood pressure,” Mayeda said.

Binge drinking is defined as having more than five drinks in one sitting for males and more than four in one sitting for females, Twichell said.

Twichell’s team analyzed information from a 2010 survey of approximately 8,600 participants. The study volunteers were initially recruited in 1996, when the participants were 8 to 14 years old, according to the study. They completed detailed surveys every one to two years for the study. In 2010, the participants were 22 to 28 years old.

The researchers found young adult men were 70 percent more likely to develop high blood pressure if they binge drank frequently in the previous year. The researchers adjusted the data to account for weight, age, race and smoking, according to Twichell.

Meanwhile, young adult women with light or moderate alcohol use were between 45 and 62 percent less likely to have high blood pressure, according to the study.

The reason drinking has variable effects on blood pressure has to do with the way alcohol affects the blood vessels, Mayeda said.

“Usually when you first drink, your blood pressure drops, but when you’re binge drinking, when you stop the binge, there’s a withdrawal,” he said. “For people going through alcohol withdrawal, their heart rate goes up high and their blood pressure goes up high.”

Alcohol is a vasodilator, which means it dilates, or enlarges the blood vessels initially, allowing for greater blood flow, he said.

But during withdrawal, the blood vessels shrink, according to Dr. Sarah Samaan, cardiologist and co-chair of the echocardiography laboratory at Legacy Heart Center in Plano, Texas.

“Binge drinking may also increase adrenaline levels and raise levels of other hormones and blood chemicals like cortisol, which are associated with high blood pressure,” she said. “Since hypertension raises the risk for heart disease, stroke and kidney disease, young men who binge drink put themselves in harm’s way in more ways than one.”

It’s unclear why the effect wasn’t seen in teens, but it may have to do with the amount of data available, Twichell said.

“Fewer adolescents reported a very high degree of alcohol consumption, and this difference could have prevented us from being able to find an association,” she said. “It is also possible that the effects of binge drinking are different in adolescents and adults, but the rationale for this is not clear.”

Samaan suggested other possibilities related to physical differences among the participants.

“Young women and teen boys typically have lower blood pressure readings, so it’s likely that even binge drinking will not cause the blood pressure to rise about the ‘normal’ threshold,” she said. “For women, it’s possible that estrogen has some protective effect on blood pressure, although there is no way to determine that from this study.”

Another possibility, said Mayeda, is that the blood vessels are still very flexible in teens, something that has been seen in autopsies of children, he said.

These findings don’t mean that women don’t have to be concerned about their alcohol consumption, according to Mayeda, who said that alcohol can have other adverse cardiac effects.

“Alcohol becomes toxic to the heart muscle,” he said. “With high alcohol exposure, we always think of patients developing liver failure, but at the extremes, it can cause congestive heart failure.”

The researchers are scheduled to present their findings at American Society of Nephrology’s Kidney Week 2014, in Philadelphia, Nov. 11-16. Findings presented at meetings are generally considered preliminary until they’ve been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The American Heart Association offers more information on how alcohol can affect heart health.

SOURCES: Sarah Twichell, M.D., pediatric nephrology fellow, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, Mass.; Guy Mayeda, M.D., cardiologist, Good Samaritan Hospital, Los Angeles, Calif.; Sarah Samaan, M.D., cardiologist and co-chair, echocardiography laboratory, Legacy Heart Center, Plano, Texas; Nov. 11-16, 2014, presentation, American Society of Nephrology, Kidney Week 2014, Philadelphia, Pa.

Your Arteries Are What You Eat


Doctors and nutrition experts have long touted the benefits of a healthy diet to increase longevity and prevent a host of diseases. This is particularly true with peripheral arterial disease (PAD). PAD is caused by plaque build-up in the arteries that decreases blood flow to the kidneys, stomach, and limbs. The disease can cause leg pain, and is often a sign of more widespread arterial blockage, which can lead to heart attack and stroke. Thankfully, one of the best ways to maintain and even prevent PAD is with a healthy diet. Basically, your arteries are what you eat. So here are five changes you can make to prevent your risk of developing PAD:

1. Eat More Healthy Fat
Not all fats are created equal. Eating a diet rich in olive oil, raw nuts, fish, and other foods containing polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are hailed as an effective way to prevent heart attacks and death from heart disease. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed these foods (and all those that make up the Mediterranean Diet) have specific benefits for preventing PAD as well. So instead of pouring processed dressing on your salad, use a few tablespoons of olive oil and some fresh herbs to give it flavor. And rather than potato chips, grab a handful of raw almonds to satisfy a snack craving and give your body a boost of healthy fats.

2. Ditch Trans Fats and Saturated Fats
If incorporating “good fat” into your diet is essential to keeping your heart healthy, foregoing the bad fat is even more important. Deep-fried and whole-fat foods (like from dairy products and red meat) are some of the worst artery-clogging offenders. Though they can be tasty, these types of fatty foods offer little-to-no nutritional value and can increase bad cholesterol. Some easy substitutes: choose sliced avocado over mayonnaise on your turkey sandwich, and cook with olive or coconut oil instead of butter or shortening. Limit foods like fried chicken, French fries, bacon, and all-beef hamburgers to very rare occasions.

3. Add Some Color
Take a look at your dinner plate. What colors do you see? If it’s mostly shades of white, brown and beige, you are probably missing out on beneficial nutrients, vitamins and fiber that come from fruits and vegetables. Try to add in dark leafy greens, tomatoes, bell peppers, and squash to your meals. And finish off with a bowl of colorful berries instead of ice cream. Fresh is best, but if you’re limited by the season or where you live, frozen veggies are a great alternative. Just be sure to prepare them without butter. Frozen and dried fruits are okay too – as long as they aren’t preserved with extra sugar. Be wary of anything that comes in a can; most have added sugars and/or sodium to add flavor and help preserve them for longer – a no-no for the health-conscious.

4. Choose High-Fiber Grains
White breads, rice and pastas may be a filling and an inexpensive way to feed your family, but they offer little in the way of nutritional value and they won’t keep you full for long. Your body turns most of those carbohydrates into sugar – and if you don’t burn what you consume, the excess can lead to weight gain. Instead, choose high-fiber options like whole-wheat breads and pasta, brown rice, lentils and sprouted grains like quinoa. Studies show a high-fiber diet can lower bad cholesterol and help protect against heart disease.

5. Consume Dairy Wisely
Dairy products can be a great source of calcium and protein, but make sure you are choosing the right types. Milk, cheese and yogurts made with whole milk are high in artery-clogging saturated fat, and egg yolks contain high levels of cholesterol. Try low-fat or non-fat milk and cheeses, and substitute your regular yogurt for low- or non-fat Greek yogurt, which is higher in protein. Egg whites are always a better bet when whipping up an omelet (especially when you add in lots of fresh veggies). Another great tip: instead of sour cream, try plain non-fat Greek yogurt in its place. You’ll get the cool, creamy consistency you desire without so many of the artery-clogging ingredients.

By making these simple switches in your diet, you can greatly reduce your risk of developing peripheral arterial disease and heart disease. If you are concerned about your health and are ready to make a change, talk to your doctor or a nutritionist about creating a dietary plan that works for you.


Doing This ONE Thing Can Greatly Reduce Your PAD Risk


Have you ever had a clogged pipe that caused really low water pressure in your shower? The unsatisfying flow of water likely made rinsing the shampoo out of your hair take twice as long—an annoyance certainly, but nothing a plumber couldn’t fix.

Now imagine that scenario inside your veins—only the clog is plaque build-up that restricts the blood flow in arteries leading to your kidneys, stomach, and limbs. This situation, known as peripheral arterial disease, or PAD, is a lot more serious, even deadly, if not treated. But there is one surefire way to reduce your risk of developing PAD: Don’t Smoke!

If you’re a smoker, you’re probably thinking, “Easier said than done.” And you’re right. The negative effects of smoking have been widely publicized in this country for years, but people continue to light up because nicotine is highly addictive, and perhaps, because they are in denial that their health will be affected by their habit. Though you’ve probably heard countless reasons why you should quit smoking, here is one more statistic: smokers are four times more likely to get PAD and have symptoms of PAD than non-smokers, according to the American Heart Association.

Still not convinced? Consider this: people with PAD have a higher risk of death from stroke or heart attack because PAD is a sign of widespread plaque buildup, which can affect blood flow to your heart and brain. Furthermore, PAD sufferers often experience pain in the legs, especially when walking. And in rare cases, if the disease is left untreated, a small leg sore could become infected, which could lead to death of the tissue and eventual amputation of the limb. Even non-smokers aren’t completely devoid of risk. A person can develop PAD if regularly exposed to second-hand smoke too.

The good news is, quitting smoking and staying away from second-hand smoke immediately reduces the risk of developing PAD—no matter how long or how much you have smoked. In addition, giving up cigarettes can help reverse the build-up of plaque in your arteries and the damage to your heart and blood vessels. When combined with a healthy diet and regular physical activity, these efforts are often enough to keep PAD at bay. If you need help, talk to your doctor about effective ways to quit for good. Your body will thank you.