Does Drinking Alcohol Affect Your Blood Pressure

Several factors contribute to elevated blood pressure numbers, and depending on your lifestyle, and other medical conditions, alcohol could be one of them. 

This is especially true, if you’re a heavy drinker. 

Let’s look at the various ways in which alcohol could affect your blood pressure, by answering four important questions. 

QUESTION 1 – Are you just a social drinker, who consumes drinks at social gatherings? 

If you’re just a light social drinker, it may not affect your blood pressure. 

Every drink causes an acute increase in your blood pressure, BUT, this rise in blood pressure usually resolves by itself in a few hours. 

If, after a couple of drinks, you call it a day, and don’t drink anymore, your blood pressure will come back to normal, and you’ll have nothing to worry about. 

The problem arises when you keep having more than two drinks a day regularly. 

The quick rise in blood pressure, doesn’t get a chance to settle back down.

It stays elevated.  

When that happens, it could have long term negative consequences to your health.

QUESTION 2 – Are you a binge drinker?

Binge drinking could cause a chronic elevation in your blood pressure numbers. 

This is because regular alcohol consumption might harden or constrict the arteries. 

This could lead to a heart failure, or a stroke, if not controlled. 

It gets worse if you’re already a high blood pressure patient, and on medications. 

Large amounts of alcohol could interfere with certain medicines. 

This may cause the drugs to NOT work at their full potential. 

Another reason binge drinking increases blood pressure, is the high amounts of sugar in alcohol. 

This could lead to obesity. 

Overweight people see a rise in the number of fatty tissues that increase the resistance of blood vessels. 

As a result, the heart has to work harder to pump blood and this increases blood pressure.

QUESTION 3 – Does the type of alcohol matter? 

Having red wine occasionally, was once attributed to better heart health. 

But that’s more due to the polyphenols in the wine. 

Polyphenols improve the cell lining of the blood vessels. 

The alcohol in the wine, is as bad for your blood pressure, as the alcohol in any other type of alcohol based drink. 

Ultimately, it’s not the TYPE of alcohol that determines a shift in your blood pressure, but the AMOUNT you consume.

QUESTION 4 – So, how much alcohol IS safe to drink? 

According to the standard guidelines, from the American Heart Association, men shouldn’t have more than two drinks a day. 

Women are likely to be safer, with no more than one drink per day. 

A lower number of drinks is even better for your high blood pressure.

Cutting back on your drinks, is a good idea if you want to normalize your blood pressure readings. 

However, if you’ve been a heavy drinker for a long time, you should exercise caution. 

Reducing consumption by too much, at one go, could also elevate your blood pressure. 

When someone’s excessively dependent on alcohol, an abrupt reduction could cause psychological distress. 

Sudden withdrawal symptoms, often include a severe increase in blood pressure, that could last for several days. 

It’s recommended that you follow a systematic approach for withdrawal, under the guidance of a professional medical expert. 


Conclusion

Heavy drinkers do have a risk of high blood pressure, but it all comes down to your overall lifestyle. 

There’s no rule with regards to alcohol that you could blindly follow, but there are good recommendations. 

In addition to cutting back on your drinks, you should focus on other key aspects of your health. 

Some of them include exercise, diet, stress management, and sleep. 

All of these factors play their part in controlling your blood pressure numbers.

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