Intoxicating experience

Published: Wednesday 31 May 2000

It is a familiar experience for the tippler. You have one too many drinks, which include strong beers, and every thing turns fuzzy, the room begins to spin and soon you are flat on the floor. Though this is not unusual, there has not been a credible scientific explanation for it. Now Virend Somers, a cardiologist from Mayo Clinic, Rochester, UK, claims that he has found the answer. The keeling over is linked to the blood pressure. Standing up makes blood pressure drop, drunk or sober. In a sober person, blood vessels immediately respond by constricting, which brings the pressure back to normal and keeps the brain supplied with blood. Somers tested the hypothesis that if alcohol blocks this reflex action. To do this he tested controls and those who had a few drinks in a vacuum chamber that caused about the same drop of BP as standing up. His team found that without alcohol, the BP corrected itself with the blood vessels constricting only among the controls. Is it possible the alcoholic cannot send the signal to the brain or does the brain fail to respond to a signal sent is presently being studied ( Circulation , Vol 101, No 4).

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