21 February 2020 In General Health

BACKGROUND: Problem drinking carries significant health burdens, including an increased risk of hypertension. The effect of chronic alcohol intake on blood pressure (BP) in women is understudied and poorly understood.

OBJECTIVES: We sought to examine the relationships between drinking habits and BP in hypertensive women. METHODS: We analyzed drinking habits in 113 women followed in the Brigham and Women's Hospital Hypertension Clinic for at least one year.

RESULTS: Among these women with well-controlled hypertension, baseline diastolic BP was significantly lower in moderate drinkers compared with women who rarely or never drank. Changes in both systolic and diastolic BP over 12 months showed a significant negative association with changes in percent drinking days. In contrast, there was a trend toward higher baseline systolic BP among those women who consumed more drinks per drinking day.

CONCLUSIONS: Among these women with controlled hypertension, our data failed to demonstrate an association between drinking beyond recommended limits and higher disease burden. These findings parallel the widely reported difference between drinking frequency, associated with a host of positive health outcomes, and drinking intensity, associated with negative outcomes. Novel to this report is an observed reduction in blood pressure over the one-year follow-up period accompanying an increased drinking frequency in treated hypertensive women. Cautions include the suggestion that a greater number of drinks per drinking day was associated with higher baseline pressure. These data imply that drinking within sensible limits has no negative impact on chronic hypertension. In fact, for women with well-controlled hypertension, such a habit may impart benefit

21 February 2020 In General Health

The primary aim of this systematic review was to establish the prevalence, character, and risk factors of peripheral neuropathy amongst chronic alcohol abusers and to identify the most appropriate management strategies.

In this review, possible pathogenetic mechanisms are also discussed. A systematic, computer-based search was conducted using the PubMed database. Data regarding the above parameters were extracted. 87 articles were included in this review, 29 case-control studies, 52 prospective/retrospective cohort studies and 2 randomised control trials, 1 cross sectional study, and 3 population-based studies.

The prevalence of peripheral neuropathy amongst chronic alcohol abusers is 46.3% (CI 35.7- 57.3%) when confirmed via nerve conduction studies. Alcohol-related peripheral neuropathy generally presents as a progressive, predominantly sensory axonal length-dependent neuropathy.

The most important risk factor for alcohol-related peripheral neuropathy is the total lifetime dose of ethanol, although other risk factors have been identified including genetic, male gender, and type of alcohol consumed. At present, it is unclear what the pathogenetic mechanisms for the development of neuropathy amongst those who chronically abuse alcohol are, and therefore, it is unknown whether it is attributed to the direct toxic effects of ethanol or another currently unidentified factor.

There is presently sparse data to support a particular management strategy in alcohol-related peripheral neuropathy, but the limited data available appears to support the use of vitamin supplementation, particularly of B-vitamin regimens inclusive of thiamine

21 February 2020 In General Health

This article explores the contentious definition and communication of alcohol consumption limits and their relationship to ideas about risk through an analysis of the development of health education materials during the 1980s.

It argues that changing ideas about alcohol and risk, and their communication to the public, were a reflection of both specific developments in thinking about alcohol and the harm it could pose as well as broader shifts within public health policy, practice and outlook.

Risk was understood as something experienced by individuals and populations, a conceptual framing that suggested different approaches. To get to grips with these issues, the article focuses on: (1) the definition of alcohol consumption limits; (2) the communication of these limits; and (3) the limits to limits.

The problems experienced in defining and communicating limits suggests not only a ‘limit to limits’ but also to the entire notion of risk-based ‘sensible’ drinking as a strategy for health education.

24 June 2019 In Dementia

BACKGROUND: Alcohol use has been identified as a risk factor for dementia and cognitive decline. However, some patterns of drinking have been associated with beneficial effects.

METHODS AND RESULTS: To clarify the relationship between alcohol use and dementia, we conducted a scoping review based on a systematic search of systematic reviews published from January 2000 to October 2017 by using Medline, Embase, and PsycINFO. Overall, 28 systematic reviews were identified: 20 on the associations between the level of alcohol use and the incidence of cognitive impairment/dementia, six on the associations between dimensions of alcohol use and specific brain functions, and two on induced dementias. Although causality could not be established, light to moderate alcohol use in middle to late adulthood was associated with a decreased risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. Heavy alcohol use was associated with changes in brain structures, cognitive impairments, and an increased risk of all types of dementia.

CONCLUSION: Reducing heavy alcohol use may be an effective dementia prevention strategy.

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