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. 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.
People with ALDH2*2 are at a four times higher risk of heart problems compared to those without it. “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.
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. 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. Regular drinking increases the likelihood of developing heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and cancer.
Therefore, if you experience facial flushing after drinking alcohol, you should be aware of the potential risk of developing a silent killer illness. 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, https://finance.yahoo.com/news/put-down-beer-alcohol-flush-190000354.html
1. “Warning issued to anybody who gets red face while drinking alcohol over ‘silent killer'” Birmingham Live, 26 Jan. 2023, https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/warning-issued-anybody-who-gets-26083026
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