Red-faced drinkers at ‘higher risk’ of silent killer

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DRINKERS who have a red face after drinking are at increased risk of the silent killer disease, experts have warned.

Doctors in California said it is due to a gene that impairs the body’s ability to metabolize alcohol.


People who flush after drinking may be at risk of heart disease, experts have revealedAuthor: Getty

About eight percent of the population has the ALDH2*2 gene variant.

And those who have them may be at risk heart disease due to inflammation of blood vessels, researchers say.

Heart disease is often called the silent killer because many people don’t know they have it.

Around 2.3 million people in the UK are living with the condition, according to the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

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In the United States, about 20.1 million adults suffer from this condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Writing in a journal Science Translational Medicinedoctors found that the risk of heart disease is four times higher in drinkers with ALDH2*2.

Hongchao Guo of Stanford University in California and colleagues looked at data from UK biobanks and Japan.

They measured the ability of blood vessels to dilate using a device called EndoPAT in people with the gene.

In those with ALDH2, this rate increases after drinking, but in those with ALDH2*, it decreases.

“This may seem surprising given that people with ALDH2*2 blush when they drink, but this is due to the release of histamine,” the team said.

Many people turn red when they drink alcohol, and this is usually due to the presence of histamine in the drink, according to Allergy UK.

Histamine is present in many alcoholic beverages, especially red wine, and along with reddening of the blood, can cause nasal, intestinal, or asthma.

In no case should you ignore the symptoms of heart disease

The NHS states that the main symptoms of heart disease include:

  1. chest pain (angina)
  2. shortness of breath
  3. pain in the whole body
  4. feeling faint
  5. feeling sick (nausea)

However, the guidelines state that not everyone has the same symptoms and that some people may not experience them until they are diagnosed with coronary heart disease.

If you are worried about any symptoms you should see your GP and always call 999 in an emergency.

Some people are sensitive to it because of a deficiency in the breakdown and elimination of histamine from the body.

You may also experience a yeast reaction if sulfites, sulfur dioxide, or additives are added to the drink.

The Stanford team also studied the type of cells that line blood vessels.

They found that ALDH2*2 cells had higher levels of free radicals and inflammation than normal endothelial cells.

This meant they were also able to produce less nitric oxide, which can help relax blood vessels.

This gene variant also stops the growth of new blood vessels, the team said.

“This means that during a heart attack, when there is a need for blood vessel growth, carriers have less ability to make new blood vessels,” they added.

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The team concluded that if you have this gene, the only way to reduce your risk is to not drink.

“If you drink regularly, you are at a much higher risk of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and cancer,” they added.

How to get help with drinking

There are many helpful resources and tools to help you deal with your drinking problems.

Drinkline – Call 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am to 8pm, weekends 11am to 4pm).

Alcoholics Anonymous – a free self-help group that offers a 12-week plan

Al-Anon – A group for family members or friends struggling to help a loved one

Adfam – a national charity working with families affected by drug and alcohol abuse

National Association of Children of Alcoholics (Nacoa – helpline for children whose parents are addicted to alcohol – 0800 358 3456

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