Routine blood tests of heavy drinkers signaled subclinical damage to heart tissue in a study from Russia published in the Journal of the American Heart Association on December 18.
Researchers evaluated blood sample test results for 2,479 adults in the city of Arkhangelsk, Russia, who were enrolled in the Know Your Heart general population study. They also examined samples from 278 patients who were being treated for alcoholism at the Arkhangelsk Regional Psychiatric Hospital.
Signs of heavy or harmful drinking that suggest risk for cardiovascular damage include having six or more drinks on one occasion and negative life consequences associated with alcohol.
Three tests were conducted:
- High-sensitivity cardiac troponin T (hs-cTnT)
- N-terminal pro b-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP)
- High-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP)
Patients who were being treated for alcoholism and had the most serious problems had the highest levels of all three biomarkers, compared with the general population, the researchers found. In fact, hsCRP, a marker of inflammation, was 69.2% higher than in the general population.
The study also showed that in the general population, NT-proBNP, which is a marker for cardiac wall stretch, was 31.5% higher for those with greater alcohol intake.
"Our results suggest that people who drink heavily are creating higher than normal levels of inflammation in their bodies that have been linked to a wide range of health conditions including cardiovascular disease," first author Olena Iakunchykova commented in a statement.