Updated 07 October 2014

Red face after drinking suggests high blood pressure

If your face turns red after a few drinks, it could be a sign of added risk for alcohol-linked high blood pressure.

If your face turns red after a few drinks, it could be a sign of added risk for alcohol-linked high blood pressure, new research suggests.

It was already known that excessive drinking is a risk factor for
high blood pressure, say researchers reporting online in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Experts have also known that facial flushing after drinking is tied to higher sensitivity or even intolerance to alcohol.

Acetaldehyde from alcohol damages your genes, which may cause cancer

In the new study, the South Korean research team examined the medical records of more than 1 700 men and divided them into three groups: non-drinkers, people whose faces flushed after drinking and drinkers who didn't have the flushed-face reaction.

"Flushers" were more apt to have drinking-related high blood pressure than non-flushers, the research found, and the risk of high blood pressure was much higher among flushers who had more than four drinks per week.

Read: Alcohol may relax you, but it does up your blood pressure

High alcohol sensitivity

"Facial flushing after drinking is always considered as a symptom of high alcohol sensitivity or even intolerance to alcohol, unless a patient is taking special medicine," study author Jong Sung Kim, head of the department of family medicine at Chungnam National University School of Medicine in South Korea, said in a journal news release.

"The facial flushing response to drinking usually occurs in a person who cannot genetically break down acetaldehyde, the first metabolite of alcohol," Kim explained.

According to the authors, facial flushing after drinking could serve as a signal for a greater risk of alcohol-linked high blood pressure.

Based on the new data, doctors should "consider evaluating their patients' flushing response to alcohol, as well as drinking amount, in daily routine care," Kim said.

Read more:

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Dr Jacomien de Villiers qualified as a specialist physician at the University of Pretoria in 1995. She worked at various clinics at the Department of Internal Medicine, Steve Biko Hospital, these include General Internal Medicine, Hypertension, Diabetes and Cardiology. She has run a private practice since 2001, as well as a consultant post at the Endocrine Clinic of Steve Biko Hospital.

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