- How Alcohol Can Raise Blood Pressure
- How Alcohol Can Lower Blood Pressure
- Monitoring Your Heart Health
- Addressing Heavy Drinking
Drinking alcohol can chronically raise your blood pressure, constrict your blood vessels, and increase your cardiovascular risk for heart disease, heart failure, and stroke. The risk generally increases with higher levels of alcohol intake.
Binge drinking, or drinking several alcoholic drinks in a short amount of time, can increase your risk of atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rate that can lead to heart failure.
Drinking red wine is believed to lower blood pressure, but the potential benefits of red wine on your heart health may not outweigh the risk of drinking alcohol. The AHA (American Heart Association) does not recommend drinking alcohol to lower blood pressure.
How Alcohol Can Raise Blood Pressure
The exact way alcohol affects blood pressure is still being studied. Some experts have suggested alcohol increases cortisol, a stress hormone leading to higher blood pressure. Others suggest inflammation and oxidation are effects of alcohol consumption, both increasing blood pressure.
Excessive drinking can increase the amount of certain fats known as triglycerides in the bloodstream. Fats combined with cholesterol in the bloodstream can block arteries, reduce blood flow, increase blood pressure, and lead to a higher risk of heart attack.
The risk of hypertension caused by drinking alcohol may change from person to person. A family history of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and alcohol abuse are all risk factors for poor heart health due to alcohol.
How Alcohol Can Lower Blood Pressure
Constant heavy drinking can lead to hypertension, but for people who drink heavily, reducing the amount of alcohol they consume can actually lower blood pressure.
A 2017 study showed that heavy drinkers who switched to moderate alcohol consumption (2 or fewer standard drinks per day) reported lower blood pressure levels compared to people who continued drinking heavily.
High blood pressure caused by heavy alcohol use may be reversible, but other forms of cardiovascular disease may not be. Moderate drinking can reduce your risk of cardiovascular and heart disease before they happen, while not drinking at all is likely most effective.
Monitoring Your Heart Health
Experts recommend physical activity and dietary changes for people at risk of heart-related health problems. Doctors may recommend reduced sodium, increased exercise, preventing further weight gain, and blood pressure medications for patients with high blood pressure.
Consistent blood pressure tests can help patients look after their cardiovascular health. A blood pressure reading measures your systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Systolic pressure is measured when your heart beats, while diastolic pressure measures your blood between beats.
If your systolic and diastolic blood pressure are over 130 and 80 mm Hg, respectively, you may have hypertension. Changing your lifestyle and daily habits can help you lower these numbers for your next test.
Addressing Heavy Drinking
Long-term alcohol use can cause a number of cardiovascular and mental health problems. People who drink heavily are at a higher risk for health problems compared to people who do not drink.
If you drink heavily and are unable to stop, you may benefit from a dedicated treatment program. These programs often involve a detox period, behavioral therapy, and counseling for long-term sobriety.
Northeast Addictions Treatment Center offers in-depth alcohol use disorder treatment for each patient’s individual needs. To find out whether our treatment programs are right for you, please contact us today.
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- American Heart Association — Limiting Alcohol to Manage High Blood Pressure
- Mayo Clinic — Blood pressure test
- National Library of Medicine: PubMed — The effect of a reduction in alcohol consumption on blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis
- World Journal of Cardiology — Alcohol-induced hypertension: Mechanism and prevention