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Even in Young Adults, Binge Drinking May Harm Circulation
Date:4/23/2013

y, there was evidence that two main cells types -- endothelium and smooth muscle -- that work to control blood flow in the circulation were not functioning normally," Phillips said.

"These vascular changes may be a precursor for the initiation and progression of atherosclerosis [hardening of the arteries] and increased vulnerability to cardiovascular disease," he added.

While the study found an association between binge drinking in young adults and possible increased risk of future heart disease, it did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.

The author of an accompanying journal editorial explained the study findings further.

"The researchers saw a signal for vasoconstriction [when blood vessels constrict] in the binge drinkers even after they stopped binge drinking, and were measured three to four days after binge drinking," said Dr. Robert Vogel, a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Colorado, Denver.

"Alcohol is a very complex drug. Your blood pressure goes down while you have alcohol in your system, but your blood pressure goes up the day after drinking. We don't understand exactly why that is, but alcohol is often forgotten when doctors are assessing for [high blood pressure]," Vogel said.

Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said, "Binge drinking is a true public health problem on college campuses. Even in these young people, binge drinking was associated with changes to the lining of the arteries associated with heart disease," she noted.

"Perhaps when discussing binge drinking on college campuses, providing this information on the ramifications of this unhealthy behavior on arterial health can help in managing this destructive behavioral choice," she suggested.

For his part, Dr. Scott Krakower, an addiction specialist at North Shore-LIJ Health System in Mineola, N.Y., said he wasn't surprised that there's a potential link betwee
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