Newsbriefs: High Blood Pressure; Clean Hands

Alcohol and High Blood Pressure Not a Good Mix

If you have high blood pressure, as little as one ounce of alcohol per day could harm your heart, according to a study presented at the American Society of Hypertension annual meeting in May. For the study, 335 people with high blood pressure but no other heart problems had their heart function and daily alcohol intake assessed. They were divided into four groups: no alcohol, 1-19 grams (g), 20-39 g, and 40 g or more per day. Signs of heart damage were seen in almost half the participants, with progressively greater damage as alcohol consumption increased. Those who consumed the most alcohol had thicker left ventricle walls, which made the left ventricle (which pumps blood from the heart out to the rest of the body) function less efficiently. Alcohol can increase blood pressure, but the impact of alcohol consumption on heart function in people who already have high blood pressure hasn’t been well studied. These findings have yet to be peer reviewed, and don’t establish whether reducing alcohol consumption can correct the heart damage that was found—but they do reinforce current guidelines recommending that people with high blood pressure limit their alcohol intake.

Clean Hands Count

Although hand contact is known to be a major way in which germs spread in medical facilities, studies show that some healthcare professionals don’t follow hand hygiene recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In order to reinforce its guidance, the CDC has launched a new “Clean Hands Count” campaign that urges healthcare professionals, patients, and patients’ loved ones to prevent healthcare-associated infections by keeping their hands clean. You can find out more about the CDC’s hand-hygiene advice at its website —and speak up if you don’t see members of your healthcare team washing their hands before providing care.

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