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Does Alcohol Raise Blood Pressure? | How Alcohol Affects Blood Pressure

Published on August 19, 2021
Does Alcohol Raise Blood Pressure? | How Alcohol Affects Blood Pressure

Alcohol consumption can cause all sorts of problems with your heart health. In fact, heavy drinking can raise your blood pressure and lead to hypertension which can put you at risk for other heart issues.

How Does Alcohol Affect Blood Pressure?

Drinking a large amount of alcohol can cause your blood vessels to constrict or narrow. The more alcohol you drink, the narrower your blood vessels and the higher your blood pressure.

Your blood pressure increases because it must push the blood through the vessels fast enough to get the same amount of blood to the rest of your body where it’s needed. 

Alcohol Use & Hypertension

The more alcohol you drink, the more you increase your risk of high blood pressure. Moderate drinking does not have this effect on blood pressure.

If binge drinking is a one-time occurrence, the rise in blood pressure will likely be temporary. However, if you’re repeatedly binge drinking, this increase could develop into chronic hypertension.

Understanding High Blood Pressure

Every time your heart beats, it pumps blood into the arteries. The force that pushes the blood against your arterial walls is blood pressure. When your heart beats, your blood pressure is at its highest and is called systolic pressure. This is the first number on your blood pressure reading.

In between the beats of your heart, your blood pressure is lower and that’s the second number of your blood pressure reading. This is known as diastolic pressure.  

Knowing what’s normal and when to start worrying can be important. Your blood pressure levels can mean different things:

  • normal: less than 120/80 mmHg
  • prehypertension: between 120/80 mmHg and 139/89 mmHg
  • stage 1 hypertension: between 130-139 mmHg/80-89 mmHg
  • stage 2 hypertension: Higher than 140/90 mmHg
  • hypertension crisis (requires hospitalization): higher than 180/120 mmHg

High Blood Pressure Complications

While high blood pressure alone isn’t necessarily a problem, it’s what high blood pressure can lead to that makes it such a serious concern. Some of the diseases that can come with high blood pressure include:

Risk Factors For High Blood Pressure

Besides being a heavy drinker, there are also several other factors that lead to a higher risk of high blood pressure, including:

  • age
  • obesity/weight gain
  • lack of physical activity/low heart rate
  • race
  • tobacco use
  • family history of cardiovascular disease

Treating High Blood Pressure & Alcohol Abuse

The best thing you can do to lower blood pressure is to quit drinking or reduce your alcohol intake. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), moderate alcohol consumption is no more than 1-2 drinks a day. 

If you find it difficult to quit, alcohol treatment centers offer detox programs, therapies to help you learn coping skills, and other recovery services. 

Blood Pressure Medications

Your healthcare provider may also prescribe you blood pressure medications like beta-blockers, alpha-blockers, and ace inhibitors. 

But if you’re still drinking alcohol, these medications might not be best. Mixing them with alcohol can cause a host of other health problems like arrhythmias, dizziness, lightheadedness, hypotension, and sedation.

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse, call our helpline today.

Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
This page does not provide medical advice.
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