BOOZERS who get a red face after they drink are at an increased risk of a silent killer illness, experts have warned.
Medics in California said that it's down to a gene that impairs the body's ability to metabolise alcohol.
Around eight per cent of the population has the ALDH2*2 gene variant.
And those that have it could be at risk of heart disease due to the inflammation of the blood vessels, researchers said.
Heart disease is often referred to as a silent killer as many people aren't aware they have it.
In the UK, there are around 2.3million people living with the condition, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) states.
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In the US, around 20.1million adults have the condition, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) states.
Writing in the journal, Science Translational Medicine, the medics found that the risk of heart disease is four times higher in drinkers with ALDH2*2.
Hongchao Guo at Stanford University in California and his colleagues looked at data from biobanks in the UK and Japan.
They measured the ability of blood vessels to dilate using a device called EndoPAT in those with the gene.
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In those with ALDH2 this measure increased after booze, but in those with ALDH2* it decreases.
"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 team said.
Many people become flushed when they consume alcohol, and this is usually down to histamine being present in the beverage, Allergy UK states.
Histamines are present in lots of alcoholic drinks, particularly red wines and alongside flushing, can also cause nasal symptoms, gut symptoms or asthma.
The symptoms of heart diesease you should never ignore
The NHS states that the main symptoms of heart disease include:
- chest pain (angina)
- shortness of breath
- pain throughout the body
- feeling faint
- feeling sick (nausea)
However, guidance states that not everyone has the same symptoms and that some people might not experience any before coronary heart disease is diagnosed.
If you are worried about any of your symptoms then you should see your GP, in the event of an emergency, always call 999.
Some people are sensitive to this due to a deficiency in the breakdown and elimination of histamine from the body.
You might also experience a reaction from yeast and if sulphites, sulphur dioxide or additives are added to the drinks.
The Stanford team also looked at the type of cells that line the blood vessels.
They found that ALDH2*2 cells had higher levels of free radicals and inflammation than normal endothelial cells.
This meant that they were also able to generate less nitric oxide, which can help relax blood vessels.
This variant of the gene also stops the growth of new blood vessels, the team said.
"That means that when there is a heart attack, when there is a need of blood vessel growth, carriers have less ability to generate new blood vessels," they added.
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In conclusion, the team said if you have this gene, the only way to lower your risk is to try not to drink.
"If you drink consistently, you are at much higher risk of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and cancer," they added
How to get help with your booze
There are plenty of helpful resources and tools to help you with your drinking issues.
Drinkline – Call 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am to 8pm, weekends 11am to 4pm).
Alcoholics anonymous – free self-help group that offers a 12 week plan
Al-Anon – A group for family members or friends struggling to help a loved one
Adfam – a national charity working with families affected by drugs and alcohol
National Association for Children of Alcoholics (Nacoa – helpline for children who have parents who are alcohol dependent – call 0800 358 3456
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