Controlled studies of persons with hypertension have demonstrated a reduction in blood pressure (BP) if heavy alcohol consumption is reduced or eliminated. However, few studies have focused on persons who met criteria for alcohol dependence. In this study, BP data from participants in the Combining Medications and Behavioral Interventions for Alcoholism (COMBINE) trial, a large multi-center study of alcohol dependence treatment, were analyzed over a 16-week treatment period.
- A reduction in the percentage of drinking days during treatment was associated with:
- A reduction in BP in persons with higher baseline BP levels.
- An overall reduction in BP in the first 4 weeks of treatment with a gradual rise over the remaining 12 weeks.
- No difference in BP among persons whose baseline BP was below the average for the entire sample.
Comments by Michael G. Boyle, MA
Recent National Academies of Sciences/Institute of Medicine recommendations on improving the quality of behavioral health care call for an increase in integration with primary care. Hypertension is the most commonly diagnosed condition in primary care. The reduction in hypertension achieved by reduced alcohol consumption detailed in this study could provide a quality incentive for primary care physicians to increase referrals to and collaboration with addiction treatment providers.