How Does Alcohol Affect Blood Pressure?

By James Madeiros


Alcohol’s effects on blood pressure may seem intuitive: too much alcohol is bad, and high blood pressure is bad … so alcohol must cause high blood pressure. That seems reasonable, right?

Well, yes and no. Like with most things, it all depends on many factors beyond the alcohol itself, including your age, how much you drink at a sitting and how often you drink in general. That said, your kneejerk response is right – drinking can and does contribute to higher blood pressure.

The ways in which alcohol can increase blood pressure are numerous and varied. Blood pressure is the measure of force on the vascular walls that results from how hard your heart pumps blood. High blood pressure – also called hypertension – is a fact of life for about 33% of American adults, with many more diagnosed as “pre-hypertensive.”

The point is that alcohol can exacerbate an already existing problem. Alcohol has calories and weight gain can contribute to high blood pressure. Binge drinking can also scar the liver, which may lead to higher blood pressure as the heart is forced to pump harder to move blood through the organ. And, some researchers believe alcohol can make it harder for blood to reach the heart, which will also make it pump harder.

Despite these facts, doctors prefer to describe alcohol has having an indirect effect on blood pressure, which seems to suggest that drinking alone is not responsible for hypertension. Even so, it has been demonstrated that alcohol can worsen high blood pressure, which means those who have it may want to be more mindful of their drinking habits.

Legal Stuff: We should remind everyone that our blog entries are for your information only and are not intended as medical advice. If you’re going to drink, do it legally and responsibly; don’t be stupid =).

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