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How Does Alcohol Cause High Blood Pressure

Is Red Wine Good For My Heart

Does alcohol cause high blood pressure?

While were on the subject of alcohol, lets talk about red wine specifically. Youve probably heard the saying, A glass of red wine a day keeps the doctor away. But how true is that really? Well, its debatable.

Theres indeed some research that shows that people who drank 1 to 2 glasses of wine daily were less likely to be hospitalized than those who didnt drink at all or those who drank too much. But this doesnt mean that the glasses of wine are directly responsible for the lower likelihood of hospitalization. The belief that alcohol is good for your health may be influenced by other non-alcohol-related factors in those studies.

For example, one study was conducted in Italians who ate a Mediterranean diet, which is generally considered to be more healthy than the standard American diet. Others looked at French and Japanese people whose diets and levels of physical activity are also different from the average American.

The American Heart Association suggests moderation above all else.

What Are The Health Risks Of Chronic Heavy Drinking

Alcohols adverse effects on blood pressure can also lead to other problems. For example, if you have hypertension and drink, youre at increased risk for a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke. This risk is even higher if you dont have high blood pressure but have other risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes or high cholesterol.

Alcohol also increases the risk for some types of cancer, including cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and liver. In addition, alcohol can cause damage to the liver, which can lead to cirrhosis or even death.

If youre concerned about your alcohol consumption, talk to your doctor. They can help you assess your risk and make recommendations about lowering it.

If you have high blood pressure, its essential to be aware of the risks associated with chronic heavy drinking. Limiting your alcohol intake is one way to reduce those risks. Talk to your doctor about ways to manage your condition and lower your risk for chronic disease.

Affect Adverse Reaction Severity Factors

The severity of the adverse reactions caused by the interaction between wine and blood pressure medications is affected by factors such as your gender and age, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse says. Other factors that affect severity are the ingredients of the medication and the time you took the medication. Women are more susceptible to the effects of alcohol because their bodies have less water than men.

Your bodys ability to break down alcohol becomes impaired as you age. This means your risk of adverse alcohol interactions grows progressively higher as you age. Different types of medications peak at different rates. So even if you took the medications hours prior to drinking wine the possibility of experiencing adverse reactions remains.

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Does Excessive Drinking Contribute To Heart Disease

Heavy drinking, on the other hand, is linked to a number of poor health outcomes, including heart conditions. Excessive alcohol intake can lead to high blood pressure, heart failure or stroke. Excessive drinking can also contribute to cardiomyopathy, a disorder that affects the heart muscle.

Whats more, alcohol can contribute to obesity and the long list of health problems that can go along with it, McEvoy says: Alcohol is a source of excess calories and a cause of weight gain that can be harmful in the long term.

The takeaway, McEvoy says, is what you probably already knew: If you choose to drink alcohol, stick to moderate levels of drinking, and dont overdo it. Were not talking about going out and drinking yourself merry and then expecting good heart outcomes, McEvoy says.

Does Excessive Alcohol Cause High Blood Pressure

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Yes, drinking too much alcohol can definitely raise your blood pressure. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure , your doctor may advise you to reduce the amount of alcohol you drink.

Drinking too much alcohol might cause dangerously high blood pressure. Having more than three drinks in one sitting raises your blood pressure briefly, but binge drinking on a regular basis can lead to long-term increases.

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So Is Hypertension A Symptom Of Alcohol Withdrawal

The results of these two studies show the subtleties involved in investigating this topic. Although hypertension is often thought of as a symptom of alcohol withdrawal, the evidence actually correlates to the opposite. In fact, in patients with a heavy drinking past and hypertension, one of the most effective ways they can lower blood pressure is to stop drinking. It is rather the fact that many alcoholics are already hypertensive, that it becomes an observation during withdrawal, for which many people believed was the cause. This is a significant benefit towards alcohol abstinence, as lowering blood pressure very quickly reduces the rate of complications down the road.

Central Nervous System In Alcohol

The World hypertension League speculated that the relatively greater effect alcohol on systolic blood pressure compared with diastolic blood pressure may indicate an imbalance between central nervous system factors influencing cardiac output and the peripheral vascular effects of alcohol. There is increasing evidence that alcohol initiates central as well as peripheral reactions which in a synergistic manner have a hypertensive action. In addition, alcohol induces an increased sympathetic outflow, most probably linked to secretion of corticotropin-releasing hormone. Some investigators have suggested that the association between alcohol and hypertension is related to the temporal sequence of alcohol use and blood pressure measurement. Since many community programs require an overnight or twelve-hour fasting period, alcohol withdrawal, albeit subclinical, may be occurring. Similarly, patients may abstain or diminish alcohol intake before visiting a clinic or physician. Thus, the observed elevations in blood pressure could be due to excessive central-nervous-system excitability and adrenergic discharge associated with the withdrawal period.

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Even Moderate Drinking Raises Hypertension Risk For People With Type 2 Diabetes

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A total of 10,200 subjects who were participants in the ACCORD trial participated in this latest study.

Their median age was 62 years old, 61.3 percent were male and 38.7 percent were female, and 64.4 percent were white, 19.7 percent were Black, and 7.0 percent were Hispanic. The median number of years participants had been diagnosed with diabetes was 10.

Participants self-reported the number of drinks they have in a typical week. One drink was defined as a 12-ounce beer, 6 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor.

Researchers classified participants as light, moderate, or heavy drinkers:

  • Light: 1 to 7 drinks per week
  • Moderate: 8 to 14 drinks per week
  • Heavy: 15 or more drinks per week

They categorized blood pressure according to the 2017 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Guidelines for blood pressure management:

  • Normal
  • Elevated
  • Stage 1 high blood pressure
  • Stage 2 high blood pressure

Because most participants were already taking one or more blood pressure medications, researchers adjusted the analysis of the blood pressure readings to account for the effects of the medication and to estimate the underlying degree of high blood pressure.

After adjusting for factors including preexisting heart disease, age, sex, body mass index , and smoking status, researchers found the following results:

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Eat This: How Alcohol Affects Your Body Health

Have you ever said its five oclock somewhere as you pour yourself a glass of wine?

Well, sometimes people do this because they just feel like they need it to exhale. You need a drink in that moment. And somehow it feels like its going to save the day. Or maybe just your sanity in that moment. I think there are times when we all get to that place. Sometimes, for other people, its multiple times a day, depending on whats going on.

Some say that its healthy to have a glass of red wine because its got potent antioxidants called resveratrol in it. While others say, Oh my God, this is just going to hurt your liver.

The recommendation for safe drinking is one glass of wine a day for women and two glasses a day for men if youre pregnant, its none. Now Im not going to debate the virtues of whether to drink or not. What I want to know is whats going on, how they go down the hatch, how it hits your stomach, your liver, your kidneys, and what its doing to your gut, and yes, your brain.

So welcome back, Dr. B!

Can you please take us on a journey of what alcohol does as it travels through our body? From that first sip all the way through?

Its a fantastic journey Lianne, but you got to understand alcohol is a poison. It always has been.

And heres what alcohol does to you. Lets say we have a drinkjust vodka and tonic.

And, and what if you do have something that has a mixer, like a Coke or a tonic or something?

Stretching And Drooping Of The Heart Muscle

Long-term heavy drinking can cause the heart muscles to weaken. This is called alcoholic cardiomyopathy.

If your heart muscle is droopy and stretched it cant pump blood around your body very well. If the blood flow to other parts of your body is not enough, it can damage organs and tissues.

It can also cause symptoms like:

  • breathing difficulties

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What Is A Safe Amount Of Alcohol To Drink

There is no amount of alcohol that can be thought of as safe, but the government advises that regularly drinking more than 14 units per week risks damaging your health for both men and women. Keeping to this limit will help to keep your blood pressure down.

Avoid drinking more than six units in six hours, which is classed as binge drinking thats less than three 175ml glasses of wine or three pints of beer in an evening.

What is a unit of alcohol?One unit of alcohol is the equivalent of 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol. But because alcoholic drinks have different strengths and come in different sizes, knowing what counts as a unit is not always easy its often a lot less than you think.

The alcohol content of wine ranges from 11%-14% which means a single 175ml glass can contain between 1.9 and 2.4 units, and a 250ml glass can contain between 2.8 and 3.5 units.

What does 14 units look like?

  • 6 175ml glasses of wine
  • 6 pints of normal-strength beer or ale
  • 5 pints of cider
  • 14 single 25ml measures of spirits

Remember if your drinks are stronger than this then it will take fewer drinks to add up to the 14 units.

How Does Alcohol Affect Blood Pressure

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Numerous studies on high blood pressure and its risk factors have revealed a close link between the disease and alcohol consumption.

While consuming more than three drinks at one time causes a temporary rise in blood pressure, chronic binge drinking appears to result in long-term spikes.

Researchers believe that blood pressure rises by about 1 mm Hg per every 10 grams of alcohol consumed. Two to four weeks of abstinence will return levels to normal.

However, the question, How does alcohol increase blood pressure? has yet to be answered with scientific certainty. A comprehensive review published in the World Journal of Cardiology in 2014 attempted to show cause.

Possible contributing factors include a disruption of the central nervous system a malfunction of the baroreceptors, which regulate blood pressure overactivity of the sympathetic nervous system acceleration of the renin-angiotensin system heightened cortisol levels a rise in vascular activity and inflammation and oxidative stress within the blood vessel walls.

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Medical Detox For Alcohol Withdrawal

If youre facing alcohol withdrawal, you cant do it alone. You should speak to a medical professional to discover your options, but theyll likely direct you to supervised medical detox. During this time, youll receive 24-hour care for up to seven days while the alcohol is safely removed from your system. You might be given medications to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms and help your body adjust to life without alcohol.

Unfortunately, detox alone may not be enough to stop you from drinking and harming your blood pressure. You might need to move into the next level of care, which might include residential or outpatient services that help you get to the root of what pushes you to drink. This could be the difference between life and death. If this sounds like you, recovery is only a phone call away. You should call to find out your options and get the help you need.

Myth: Red Wine Lowers Blood Pressure

Fact: Theres no definitive evidence that red wine lowers blood pressure. In fact, alcohol actually raises blood pressure. But since alcohol tends to relax people, it may lower your blood pressure slightly although only for a short period of time, and it wont help with chronic hypertension. Talk to your doctor about other ways you can lower your blood pressure, like exercising moderately and eating a diet rich in healthy fats.

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Advice For Healthy People

The Australian Guidelines say:To reduce the risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury, healthy men and women should have no more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day.

The less you drink, the lower your risk of harm from alcohol.

The Guidelines are for healthy people. Talk with your doctor about what is safe for you.

Sympathetic Nervous System In Alcohol

Why Does Alcohol Cause High Blood Pressure?

Several studies reported increased sympathetic nervous system activation and discharge of sympathetic amines after alcohol consumption. Alcohol may cause hypertension by affecting the autonomic nervous system. However, alterations in the sympatho-adrenal function that occur during ageing may cause older people to have a different reaction to factors triggering their autonomic system than do younger individuals. The increased sympathetic outflow is expected not only to induce adrenoreceptor-mediated reactions but to stimulate oxidation reactions. Direct recordings of sympathetic-nerve activity suggest that short-term alcohol ingestion in humans and both short and long-term administration of ethanol in rats stimulates sympathetic-nerve discharge. Moreover, in rats the alcohol-induced increases in blood pressure and sympathetic activity is centrally mediated. It is possible that alcohol may stimulate adrenals to release adrenaline, resulting in increased heart rate cardiac output and systolic blood pressure. Randin et al have also reported that alcohol induces hypertension in rats by sympathetic activation that appears to be centrally mediated. This mechanism is also likely being implicated in alcohol-induced hypertension.

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Stress Relief To Lower Blood Pressure

Chronic stress can also lead to high blood pressure. It could be argued that a glass of wine may be used to help you relax and relieve stress. However, if you dont currently drink wine, this is not a reason to start.

If you have a question for our HealthCentral experts, please submit here.

You should know: The answer above provides general health information that is not intended to replace medical advice or treatment recommendations from a qualified healthcare professional.

What Cardiovascular Diseases Can Alcohol Cause

Heart attack

Your heart muscle needs oxygen so it can keep pumping. A heart attack is when an artery supplying oxygen to the heart muscle is reduced or cut off completely, preventing the heart muscle receiving oxygen. The blood flow to the heart can be blocked due to a gradual build up of plaque, fat and cholesterol that cause a narrowing of the coronary arteries.Alcohol consumption can raise the levels of fat in the blood. People with high triglycerides often have high levels of bad cholesterol and low levels of good cholesterol. High levels of bad cholesterol can clog arteries and if a piece of plaque breaks off, a clot forms and a heart attack can result.


Alcohol consumption can increase the risk of two types of strokes occurring. Both result in a disrupted blood flow to brain tissue, and can result in a loss of motor and sensory functions. A stroke can also damage other systems in the body including the skeletal, muscular, respiratory, digestive and urinary systems. 29

Ischemic stroke

This is when an artery supplying blood to the brain tissue is blocked. This blockage can result from a clot that has formed in the artery or from a foreign body that has broken off that becomes lodged in the artery, blocking it.30

Alcohol increases the risk of ischemic stroke because it can:

Haemorrhagic stroke

This results from an artery supplying brain tissue, tearing and bleeding.31

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Does Alcohol Protect Against Heart Problems

Some studies have shown an association between moderate alcohol intake and a lower risk of dying from heart disease.

But its hard to determine cause and effect from those studies, says McEvoy. Perhaps people who sip red wine have higher incomes, which tend to be associated with more education and greater access to healthier foods. Similarly, red wine drinkers might be more likely to eat a heart-healthy diet.

There is some evidence that moderate amounts of alcohol might help to slightly raise levels of good HDL cholesterol. Researchers have also suggested that red wine, in particular, might protect the heart, thanks to the antioxidants it contains.

But you dont have to pop a cork to reap those benefits. Exercise can also boost HDL cholesterol levels, and antioxidants can be found in other foods, such as fruits, vegetables and grape juice


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