Plasma Calcium and Cortisol as Predisposing Factors to Alcohol Related Blood Pressure Elevation


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Abstract

Mechanisms by which alcohol consumption might cause hypertension were examined in 30 pairs of healthy drinking (>275 g ethanol per week) and teetotal men closely matched for age and obesity. Both systolic and diastolic blood pressures were significantly higher in the drinkers. Plasma calcium levels correlated with diastolic blood pressures (r = 0.51, P = 0.004) in drinkers only. After adjusting for plasma albumin, diastolic pressures increased by 6.9 mmHg for each 0.1 mM increment of plasma calcium. It is proposed that regular alcohol consumption predisposes to hypertension by facilitating calcium accumulation in cells involved in blood pressure regulation. In the combined population of drinkers and teetotallers plasma cortisol correlated positively with diastolic pressure (r = 0.35, P = 0.012) and negatively with plasma potassium (r = −0.38, P = 0.006); this suggests a role for the pituitary/adrenal axis as a significant determinant of blood pressure differences between healthy subjects.Journal of Hypertension 2:387-392, 1984

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