Does Alcohol Raise Blood Pressure?

A doctor taking the blood pressure of a patient next to an image of various glasses of alcohol

Does Alcohol Raise Blood Pressure?

Alcohol increases your blood pressure, especially when used heavily or over a prolonged period of time. This can lead to an increased risk of multiple health problems, including heart attack or stroke. While there is a common misconception that alcohol has heart health benefits, there is no proven benefit to the heart from alcohol use.

Alcohol and High Blood Pressure

The link between heavy alcohol use and high blood pressure is well-established. Drinking multiple drinks in one day causes a person’s blood pressure to rise, and drinking heavily on a regular basis usually leads to chronic high blood pressure problems. The effects of alcohol on blood pressure, however, can be reversed if someone reduces or stops alcohol use. 

The association between light alcohol use and low blood pressure is much less clear. While some previous studies were thought to have found a link between moderate drinking and low blood pressure, many health care providers no longer recommend having one drink a day, as there is no evidence that alcohol actually helps blood pressure.

Risks of High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure creates many health problems, causing stress on your arteries and leading to microscopic damage that can result in blockages developing. Some of the risks of high blood pressure include:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Aneurysm
  • Heart failure
  • Kidney failure
  • Vision loss
  • Sexual dysfunction

High blood pressure also leads to damage to other organs and causes other diseases affecting your arteries.

Is Red Wine Good For High Blood Pressure?

Studies do show that drinking red wine can help lower blood pressure, as long as it is not heavy or binge drinking. This does not, however, mean that alcohol is good for your blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. The research suggests that the grapes in wine, not the alcohol, are what actually provide the beneficial effects of red wine. While there may be some heart benefit to red wine, it is not thought to be due to the alcohol it contains.

Alcohol Withdrawal and Blood Pressure

Alcohol withdrawal can have many negative effects on your body and is considered the most dangerous type of withdrawal to go through. While there are many problems that can occur during alcohol withdrawal, blood pressure problems are not often a primary concern. While blood pressure can be elevated due to the stress your body undergoes during withdrawal, the physical effects of withdrawal itself do not severely increase blood pressure. Withdrawal ultimately leads to healthier blood pressures as the negative effect of alcohol resolves.

Alcohol and Blood Pressure Medications

Alcohol and blood pressure medication typically shouldn’t be mixed. High blood pressure drugs, including hydrochlorothiazide, clonidine and amlodipine, can have harmful interactions with alcohol. Alcohol can alter the body’s digestion and metabolism and cause high levels of medications to build up in the bloodstream. These effects can lead to dangerous drops in blood pressure, dizziness, fatigue and irregular heart rhythms.

Prevention of Alcohol-Induced Blood Pressure Issues

Alcohol consumption guidelines recommend that men drink no more than two drinks per day and women consume no more than one drink a day. Consuming this amount of alcohol is considered moderate drinking. “One drink” is defined as 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor.

People with hypertension, or chronically elevated blood pressure, can take medication to lower their blood pressure. People who drink heavily, however, may not respond as well to the medications and may see increased side effects. People who use alcohol heavily should focus on getting help in cutting back or avoiding alcohol in order to lower their blood pressure.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment in Washington

Using alcohol heavily can ultimately lead to prolonged blood pressure issues and increase your risks of several different diseases. While it is best to avoid heavy drinking, some people find they struggle with cutting back or stopping drinking. This increases their risk of not only hypertension but also many other diseases that are not related to blood pressure.

At The Recovery Village Ridgefield, we understand that stopping alcohol use can be difficult for many. If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to alcohol, we invite you to contact us today to learn about the many different treatment options we offer to help people achieve lasting sobriety and freedom from alcohol addiction.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.