TUESDAY, April 23 (HealthDay News) -- When college-aged adults binge drink it may hinder the function of their blood vessels, a small new study finds, possibly setting the stage for later heart disease.
"Consequences of binge drinking may extend beyond just a bad hangover, and may actually interfere with the current and future cardiovascular health of young adults," said Shane Phillips, senior study author and an associate professor and associate head of the department of physical therapy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Results of the study were published online April 23 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
More than half of college-student drinkers engage in regular binge-drinking episodes, according to study background information. A binge-drinking episode is generally defined as consuming more than four to five alcoholic drinks in a two-hour period.
Studies on middle-aged and older people have linked binge drinking to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, such as stroke, sudden cardiac death and heart attack. Other studies have found that binge drinking can lead to hardening of the arteries, which may be what contributes to the increased risk of cardiovascular disease, according to the report.
To see the effects of binge drinking on the blood vessels and circulatory system in young people, the researchers recruited 36 urban college students between the ages of 18 and 25. About half the group participated in binge drinking, and the rest were abstainers -- they didn't drink alcohol at all. None of the study volunteers smoked cigarettes.
The researchers found that the binge drinkers showed signs of changes that could affect their cardiovascular health.
"Repeated episodes of binge drinking in young, healthy adults was associated with changes in the function of the circulation that impacts blood flow. Specificall
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