The ONE organ responsible for high blood pressure.
Why Does Alcohol Cause Hypertension?
“There's plenty of research that shows heavy beer drinkers, heavy wine drinkers, it doesn't matter, they are all at risk of increasing high blood pressure when drinking in excess.”
Alcohol increases blood levels of the hormone renin, which causes the blood vessels to constrict. This means that they get smaller in diameter. Renin also decreases how much fluid the body eliminates as urine. This combination of higher fluid levels in the body and smaller blood vessels increases blood pressure .
- Damage to the endothelium (inner lining of the blood vessels)
- Atherosclerosis (hardening of the walls of the blood vessels)
- Effect on the nervous system
- Changes in sensations of blood pressure receptors in the body
- Increase in cortisol (stress hormone)
- Increased calcium levels in the walls of the arteries
- Effect on hormones that constrict (reduce the diameter) and relax (increase the diameter) the arteries
- Unwanted weight gain
How much alcohol is okay?It is okay to have drinks in moderation if you are a healthy individual. Here is what moderate alcohol consumption means.
- For healthy men who are younger than 65 years old: Not more than two drinks per day
- For healthy men who are 65 years of age and older: Not more than one drink per day
- For healthy women of any age: Not more than one drink per day
What are binge drinking and heavy drinking?When moderate alcohol drinking leads to unhealthy forms of drinking, it is known as binge drinking and it increases your risk of hypertension. Binge drinking is defined as
- Four or more drinks within two hours for women.
- Five or more drinks within two hours for men.
- Three drinks a day for women.
- Four drinks a day for men.
Can alcohol be taken with blood pressure medications?Alcohol not only affects your blood pressure levels, but also interacts with your blood pressure medications and either increases levels of these drugs or causes side effects. Medications that are known to interact with alcohol include
- Alpha-agonist (clonidine)
- Beta-blockers (metoprolol)
- Nitrates (isosorbide)
How to prevent alcohol-induced hypertensionThe best way to prevent alcohol-induced hypertension is by reducing your alcohol intake. This not only helps you lower your blood pressure (if you have hypertension), but also helps lower your risk of hypertension in the long run. Heavy drinkers who switch to moderate drinking can lower their systolic blood pressure by two to four mmHg and their diastolic blood pressure by one to two mmHg. However, they should not stop drinking right away. This can lead to alcohol withdrawal, a condition that can cause blood pressure to increase rapidly. Instead, they should gradually taper off the amount of their drinks over one to two weeks. Doctors often recommend a healthy diet and regular exercise to people with high blood pressure as a part of their treatment. Moreover, some medications can help treat alcohol-induced hypertension.
Drinking too much alcohol can cause your blood pressure to rise over time. After 3-4 weeks of not drinking, your blood pressure will start to reduce. Reducing your blood pressure can be crucial as it can help to lessen the risk of health problems occurring in the future.