After yet another long day trying to have productive conference calls or cajoling a resistant 5-year-old to homeschool, some might look forward to a glass of wine or a cold beer. But if that person has type 2 diabetes, results from new research suggest that he stop after one.

The American Heart Association recently published a report indicating that more than 1 alcoholic drink a day raised the risk for high blood pressure in people with type 2 diabetes and elevated cardiovascular risk. High blood pressure is, in and of its self, a serious deal. It can damage delicate arteries, contribute to the risk of stroke or heart attack, and play a role in dementia and erectile dysfunction.

Advice for the Middle Aged

This was not a study involving healthy young people. The participants' average age was mid-60s. Besides having type 2 diabetes, the 10,200 men also had other conditions like pre-existing high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Many were overweight and either smoked or had been smokers.

Even so, the researchers found differences between light drinkers (1 to 7 drinks a week), moderate drinkers (8 to 14 drinks a week), and heavy drinkers (15 or more drinks a week).

Researchers found that people in the light drinkers' group, those drinking about one drink a day, did not see any association between their drinking and an increase in blood pressure. But, for people who drank moderately or heavily, consumption of alcohol was associated with elevated blood pressure. The more participants drank, the higher the hypertension.

A Double Helping of Risk

“People with type 2 diabetes are at higher cardiovascular risk, and our findings indicate that alcohol consumption is associated with hypertension, so limited drinking is recommended,” said Mathew Singleton, MD, in a statement. Dr. Singleton is a fellow at Wake Forest School of Medicine who worked on the study. According to the American Heart Association, people with type 2 diabetes are also more likely to have high blood pressure to begin with.

The Take Home

The researchers acknowledged the study's limitations. Participants' drinking habits weren’t monitored over time and they were only asked about their drinking habits once.

A healthy body of research has found that drinking small quantities might even be good for the heart. The researchers cited a couple of studies that found people with type 2 diabetes who drank minimal amounts, often wine, actually fared better. So, for those with type 2 diabetes, drinking a 6-pack of beer might be a bad decision, but the occasional glass of wine might not be out of the question. Before making any big lifestyle changes, it is always best to consult with a doctor.