Sleep Me

Facial Flushing After Drinking Could be a Sign of Heart Disease Risk

Around 8% of the global population carries a gene variant known as ALDH2*2, which impairs the body’s ability to metabolise alcohol and causes facial flushing soon after drinking.[0] Now, researchers have revealed why this mutation also increases the risk of heart disease. In the UK alone, it is estimated that 2.3 million people have this gene variant.[1]

People with ALDH2*2 are at a four times higher risk of heart problems compared to those without it.[2] “This may seem odd given that people with ALDH2*2 flush when they drink, but the flushing is caused by the release of histamines,” the researchers warned.[1]

A team of researchers at Stanford University found that when people with the gene variant consumed even a modest amount of alcohol, they had reduced function in their endothelial cells, which play a key role in determining the risk of coronary artery disease.[2] The ALDH2*2 mutation also stops the enzyme working, increases the risk of many conditions, and impairs the growth of new blood vessels – meaning that those who have this mutation are at a heightened risk of heart attacks.

The team then discovered that an existing diabetes drug called empagliflozin may reduce the harmful effects of this gene variant in those who drink a lot of alcohol. “If you’re missing this enzyme, try not to drink,” the researchers said.[3] Regular drinking increases the likelihood of developing heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and cancer.[4]

Therefore, if you experience facial flushing after drinking alcohol, you should be aware of the potential risk of developing a silent killer illness.[3] It is essential to seek medical advice if you are concerned about the effects of this gene variant.

0. “Put Down the Beer: Alcohol Flush May Be a Deadly Sign” Yahoo Finance, 25 Jan. 2023,

1. “Warning issued to anybody who gets red face while drinking alcohol over ‘silent killer'” Birmingham Live, 26 Jan. 2023,

2. “Get a Red Face After Drinking? You May Have a Higher Risk of Heart Disease” Technology Networks, 25 Jan. 2023,

3. “Why gene variant impairing alcohol breakdown raises heart disease risk” New Scientist, 25 Jan. 2023,

4. “Boozers who get a red face after they drink at ‘increased risk’ of silent killer” The US Sun, 26 Jan. 2023,

Sleep Me