Pattern of Alcohol Drinking and Progression of Atherosclerosis
Abstract—Most studies that examine the role of alcohol consumption in atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease have overlooked the possible effect of drinking pattern. We investigated the association between the habit of heavy acute intake of beer and spirits (binging) and the 4-year progression of carotid atherosclerosis in a population-based sample of middle-aged Finnish men. Data from the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study (KIHD) were used to estimate changes in maximum and mean intima-media thickness (IMT) and the maximum plaque height in 764 KIHD participants who reported using beer and in 871 participants who used spirits. After adjustment for age, baseline carotid atherosclerosis, and average weekly alcohol consumption level, we observed the highest atherosclerosis progression in men who usually consumed a whole bottle of vodka or more in 1 session. For beer binging (>6 beers at a time), the magnitude of IMT progression was even higher, although this association was only marginally significant (P<0.1) because of smaller numbers. The associations were largely unaffected by adjustments for blood pressure, lipids, smoking, BMI, and medication. The magnitude of the difference was generally higher in a subgroup that was free of IHD at baseline. We conclude that the pattern of drinking associates with the progression of carotid atherosclerosis independently of the total level of alcohol consumption and risk factors.
- Received January 22, 1999.
- Accepted June 18, 1999.