How binge drinking affects risk of heart disease

ORLANDO, Fla. – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six adults in the U.S. binge drinks at least once every week. 

Binge drinking typically means men consume five drinks or more or women consume four drinks or more within two hours. 

Unintentional injuries, such as car crashes, falls and alcohol poisoning, are some of the things that can happen immediately after someone binge drinks. 

But what are the long-term effects? Researchers at Vanderbilt University are looking at the long-term health consequences of binge drinking.

"There are some obvious ways, and then there are some ways that aren't so obvious. And, I think the blood pressure story is one of those not-so-obvious ways," said Dr. Daniel Munoz, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Researchers looked at data from more than 4,500 adults, ages 18 to 45. They found those who binge drink frequently were more likely to have higher blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar than nonbinge drinkers. 

"Even small differences over time can impact somebody's vulnerability to developing heart disease," Munoz said.

Research suggests development of high blood pressure before age 45 was significantly associated with higher risk of cardiovascular death later in life. Many experts say it's OK to have a drink now and then, but remember moderation is the key. 

The study also looked at the effects by gender. 

Men who binge drink have a higher chance of developing high blood pressure and women had higher blood glucose levels than nonbinge drinkers.