Damage of Drinking Continues After Women Stop

Study examines lingering heart effects in recovering female alcoholics

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MONDAY, Sept. 15, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Some female alcoholics who quit drinking may suffer lingering heart effects.

That sobering conclusion comes in a report in the September issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

The study, led by Dartmouth Medical School and Veterans Affairs Medical Center, found female alcoholics who experience temporary high blood pressure in the first few days after they quit drinking continue to have cardiovascular problems even after their blood pressure returns to normal a few weeks later.

Women with the temporary blood pressure increases show signs of higher diastolic blood pressure and inefficient heart pumping in response to stress tests after a month of abstinence, researcher Nancy C. Bernardy says in a news release.

Unlike men who've recently quit drinking, these newly abstinent women don't have exaggerated or sudden increases in blood pressure in response to the stress tests. The changes in cardiovascular function in the women are steady and sustained.

"These subtle but important differences for women merit further study," Bernardy says.

She and her colleagues also say more research is needed to determine if these cardiovascular problems continue in the women for more than a month or if they are reversible.

More information

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SOURCE: Health Behavior News Service, news release, Sept. 14, 2003

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