The Perils of Alcohol and High Blood Pressure

Last Updated: August 7, 2019

woman with hypertension drinking wine

More than 20 million people are affected by excessive drinking or alcoholism in the United States. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, approximately 88,000 people die from drinking too much on an annual basis. Deaths caused by alcohol are far from uncommon and, as the third preventable cause of death, many people are unaware of how dangerous their drinking habits are. What are the risks of alcoholism? It is a serious condition and difficult, but not impossible, to overcome, however, due to the social element, it’s very easy for alcoholism to occur. The risk to health is high.

Alcohol and Symptoms of Hypertension and Hypotension

How does alcohol affect blood pressure? An investigation has shown there to be a strong association between the two factors although, the symptoms may be difficult to detect. It’s also important to consider why does alcohol raise blood pressure? Hypertension is often known as the silent killer, and regular tests should be requested when alcoholism is a factor or if any of these symptoms are experienced.

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty drawing breath
  •  Blurred vision

It makes sense to reduce common risk-factors of alcohol and blood pressure and to try to break the addictive hold of alcoholism. Note that the elevated blood pressure may also be one of the alcohol allergy symptoms.

Low blood pressure (hypotension) must also be considered as a risk.

Symptoms include:

Arteries tighten restricting blood flow due to escalating pressure. Dizziness or fatigue results. Staying hydrated if hypotension is present is all-important. It’s wise to reduce alcohol-consumption and as spirits and wine impact the liver metabolizing renin and angiotensin – two hormones vital for controlling hypertension, it makes sense to monitor the effects of alcohol on blood pressure.
causes of hypertension infographics

How Alcohol Affects Blood Pressure

Can alcohol raise blood pressure and does alcohol raise blood pressure the next day? Certainly, large quantities of drink or, where alcoholism is present, the risks for hypertension increase. The change is quick and long-lasting. The effects of alcohol on the heart can also lead to a stroke – this should by seriously.

Other concerns include:

  • Alcohol prevents blood clotting increasing the risk of bleeding on the brain
  • Excessive drinking bouts may lead to an irregular heartbeat and a stroke
  • Consuming too much alcohol increases triglycerides in the blood

It is not fully understood how the mechanism works with increasing pressure of the blood, but, when hypertension is present, the heart must work significantly harder. Alcoholism and drinking will certainly increase the risk of a heart problem. Weight-gain is also likely. Drinking is addictive, it’s also associated with social pleasures and is why binge-drinking or alcoholism is so difficult to combat.  Anyone with alcoholism or, excessive drinking should understand the link between the liver and drinking too much. Although the liver breaks down this substance before it is removed, it can transverse cell membranes and break down proteins and lipids that makeup cell walls.

In  addition:

  • Toxins overpower the liver
  • Toxins transverse the blood-brain barrier affecting neurotransmitters and receptors.
  • Damage occurs in blood vessel junctions.
  • Hypertension occurs as blood vessels then act as a vasoconstrictor.

The alcohol effect on blood pressure must not be underestimated. For example, high blood pressure is one of the risk factors for gout.

Does Alcohol Raise Blood Pressure?

Research collated by NCBI, confirms that drinking regularly can lead to hypotension. Alcoholism places people at risk of various health conditions including cerebral thrombosis and death through coronary artery disease. Hypertension caused by drinking is not as defined, but risks are still present. For anyone suffering from alcoholism, it’s important to know that whether it is a wine addiction or, a dependency on spirits, the risks are the same.

To combat the escalating impact of alcoholism, greater awareness of the risks should be made clear. Can high blood pressure and alcohol affect anyone and if yes, are there risks of alcohol and blood pressure medication? These are questions that should be considered by anyone who drinks regularly. Through the basis of education, drinking habits may become less problematic, and the risk of alcoholism will lessen.

To understand the effects of alcohol and blood pressure, consider the following:

  • There is an increase of 1 mmHg for every 10g consumed
  • To reduce the harmful effects, an individual must avoid drinking for 2-4 weeks
  • Those subject to binge-drinking or alcoholism are greatly at risk

Can alcohol cause high blood pressure? There is an increased risk but, it is true that the exact causes are unknown. The general concerns for alcoholism and high blood pressure are reasonable. In layman’s terms, anyone who has excessive drinking habits or alcoholism could be at risk. When drinking is excessive, reducing the quantity slowly over several weeks is a sensible precaution as any sudden reduction could increase the risks over a short term. However, long-term alcohol effects can impact health in many ways.

 Does Alcohol Lower Blood Pressure?

Can alcohol lower blood pressure? This may seem unlikely but, it has been confirmed that moderate intake is deemed beneficial.  Does alcohol lower blood pressure temporarily? It is possible to lower pressure by 2 to 4mm Hg, but this means low quantities.

The key is the term moderate:

  • Men under retirement age – two drinks per day
  • Men over retirement age – one drink per day
  • Women – irrespective of age – one drink per day

Research indicates that the risk of coronary heart disease lessens when moderate levels of drink are consumed. An individual with hypertension can rapidly reverse the condition through stopping drinking. Alcoholism plays a factor in this. Consider the impact of alcohol withdrawal and blood pressure – and the results are encouraging. By gradually withdrawing from this addictive substance, hypertension may be helped.
doctor measuring blood pressure of a female patient

How to Treat and Prevent Alcohol-Induced Hypertension?

While drinking increases the risk of hypertension, the exact cause of this is still elusive. It is possible that there may be:

  • Imbalance of the nervous system
  • Inflammation
  • Increased cortisol levels

The easiest way to prevent high blood pressure while drinking alcohol is to drink moderately, avoid binge drinking and choose alcoholic drinks that influence it the least. Some researchers believe that dry red wine is beneficial if consumed moderately. Certainly, to reduce the risk of hypertension, reduce consumption gradually, increase exercise slowly and monitor diet reducing salt and caffeine.

Alcoholism or binge-drinking increases the risk of coronary problems. However, drinking one glass of wine may be useful in respect to cardiovascular health because it protects through the promotion of good cholesterol. Flavonoids within the grape skin and antioxidants combat free radicals protecting the heart and blood vessels.

Where alcoholism or binge-drinking is present, it is difficult for individuals to take responsibility, but they must question with honesty and no bias – does alcohol affect blood pressure? When withdrawal occurs, the risk of hypertension decreases too. Also, alcoholic treatment must be monitored in case of side-effects with any blood pressure meds and alcohol. Otherwise, the physical effects of alcohol are likely to be devastating.

In case a person is unable to stop abusing alcohol even at risk of hypertension, it is a sign that the help of the rehabilitation facility for substance abusers may be needed. Do not hesitate to ask for help!


Marixie Ann Manarang-Obsioma

Content Writer

Marixie Ann Manarang-Obsioma is a licensed Medical Technologist (Medical Laboratory Science) and an undergraduate of Doctor of Medicine (MD). She took her Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Technology at Angeles University Foundation and graduated with flying colors.

The combination of having a good medical background, being a mom, and wanting to help people, especially the elderly has cultivated her passion for working in remote areas with love and compassion.
Marixie likes to travel, read, and watch movies.

Medical review by Brian Obodeze

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  • I have low blood pressure. It has dropped so low that I have blacked out. I would like to know if having a vodka raises blood pressure. Or does it lower it. Mixed reviews on this