Alcohol Intervention Reduces Blood Pressure, But No Improvement in Type 2 Diabetes

Text Size:
Alcohol Intervention Reduces Blood Pressure, But No Improvement in Type 2 Diabetes

An intervention to address excessive alcohol use in adults with high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes led to improved blood pressure, but no major health improvements in those with diabetes, according to a new study published in the journal BMJ Open.

Alcohol use is widespread among people with diabetes, and in many cases it may not pose any major problems. In fact, moderate alcohol consumption is linked to a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes among women with a history of gestational diabetes. But alcohol use may raise the risk for high blood pressure in people with diabetes, and for people who have had gastric bypass surgery, there may be significant risks associated with alcohol consumption. Having diabetes may also increase the risk of developing alcohol-associated liver disease — potentially because type 2 diabetes is already linked to a higher risk for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

To get cutting-edge diabetes news, strategies for blood glucose management, nutrition tips, healthy recipes, and more delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our free newsletters!

For the latest study, researchers looked at the effects of an alcohol “brief intervention” — a counseling session aimed at making someone aware of alcohol use habits and risks — in adults with hypertension or type 2 diabetes who screened positive for unhealthy alcohol use between 2014 and 2017. This analysis was done by looking at electronic health records, and compared outcomes in people who did or didn’t go through the intervention. The researchers looked at outcomes related to alcohol use after 12 months, and other health outcomes 18 months later. There were 72,979 people with high blood pressure and 19,642 with type 2 diabetes included in the analysis. The average age of participants was 62, and 68% were men, as noted in an article on the study at Healio.

Blood pressure improvements linked to brief intervention

After 12 months, there was a small improvement in reported alcohol use among study participants with high blood pressure who went through the alcohol intervention — an average reduction of 0.06 drinks per drinking day, and an average reduction of 0.30 drinks per week compared with those who didn’t have the intervention. After 18 months, those who had the intervention were also 5% more likely to have a clinically meaningful reduction in diastolic blood pressure (the “bottom number” measured between heartbeats) of at least 3 mmHg.

But among participants with type 2 diabetes, there were no significant differences in health outcomes between those who had the alcohol intervention and those who didn’t — not in the areas of reported alcohol use, blood pressure, or A1C level (a measure of long-term blood glucose control). More research is needed, the researchers noted, to better understand why an alcohol intervention may be more effective for people with some health conditions — like high blood pressure — than others, like type 2 diabetes. They indicated plans to continue looking at the effects of alcohol screening and interventions in people with other health conditions, which could help show patterns in how people respond to alcohol interventions when it comes to chronic health conditions.

Want to learn more about high blood pressure? Read “Treating High Blood Pressure” and “Blood Pressure Myths and Facts” and see our “Blood Pressure Chart.”

Living with type 2 diabetes? Check out our free type 2 e-course!

Quinn Phillips

Quinn Phillips

Quinn Phillips on social media

A freelance health writer and editor based in Wisconsin, Phillips has a degree from Harvard University. He is a former Editorial Assistant for Diabetes Self-Management and has years of experience covering diabetes and related health conditions. Phillips writes on a variety of topics, but is especially interested in the intersection of health and public policy.

Get Diabetes-Friendly Recipes In Your Inbox

Sign up for Free

Stay Up To Date On News & Advice For Diabetes

Sign up for Free

Get On Track With Daily Lifestyle Tips

Sign up for Free

Save Your Favorites

Save This Article