Twenty‐Five‐Year Alcohol Consumption Trajectories and Their Association With Arterial Aging: A Prospective Cohort Study
Emerging evidence suggests that arterial stiffness, an important marker of cardiovascular health, is associated with alcohol consumption.
However, the role of longer‐term consumption patterns in the progression of arterial stiffness over time remains unclear. A longitudinal cohort design was used to evaluate the association between alcohol consumption over 25 years and subsequent changes in arterial stiffness.
Methods and Results
Data (N=3869; 73% male) were drawn from the Whitehall II cohort study of British civil servants, in which participants completed repeat pulse wave velocity assessments of arterial stiffness across a 4‐ to 5‐year interval. Repeated alcohol intake measurements were used to categorize participants into alcohol consumer types, accounting for longitudinal variability in consumption. Sex‐stratified linear mixed‐effects modeling was used to investigate whether alcohol user types differed in their relationship to pulse wave velocity and its progression over time. Males with consistent long‐term heavy intake >112 g of ethanol/week had significantly higher baseline pulse wave velocity (b=0.26 m/s; P=0.045) than those who consumed alcohol consistently moderately (1–112 g of ethanol/week).
Male former alcohol users showed significantly greater increases in arterial stiffness longitudinally compared to consistently moderate alcohol users (b=0.11 m/s; P=0.009).
All associations were nonsignificant for females after adjustment for body mass index, heart rate, mean arterial pressure, diabetes mellitus, high‐density lipoprotein, and triglycerides.
This work demonstrates that consistently heavy alcohol consumption is associated with higher cardiovascular risk, especially among males, and also provides new insights into the potential impact of changes in alcohol intake levels over time. It discusses the additional insights possible when capturing longitudinal consumption patterns in lieu of reliance on recent intake alone.