Did you know … alcohol can raise your blood pressure?

Editor April 3rd, 2012

Drinking a lot of alcohol regularly can lead to high blood pressure

Alcohol can affect the arteries and other blood vessels by causing them to tighten and close, which raises blood pressure because it is harder for blood to flow through a smaller space.

Other ways the alcohol has a bad effect on your body:

  1. Alcohol triggers the part of the nervous system that controls the “flight-or-fight response,” a reaction either to flee or fight in the face of a threat. The brain uses this type of reaction to help us prepare for face something unfamiliar or face events that might be scary, but if this automatic system is triggered too often with alcohol, it can lead to hypertension and other health problems.
  2. Alcohol also has a lot of calories so drinking it regularly can cause an unhealthy increase in weight. Keeping a healthy weight is important in preventing high blood pressure
  3. If you’re taking blood pressure medications, alcohol can also cause your medications to not work as well in lowering your high blood pressure. Alcohol can also increase the amount of side effects that you have from your blood pressure medications.

How much is too much?

Drinking alcohol regularly or drinking large amounts can lead to high blood pressure or make it worse if you already have it. Generally more than one drink a day for women and more than two a day for men is too much alcohol.  Here are some things to keep in mind to prevent the raising of your blood pressure because of alcohol:

  1. Track your drinking patterns and cut back if you find yourself drinking more in a day than what is suggested for women or men
  2. If you’re a heavy drinker, slowly cut back your drinking over 1-2 weeks talk to your doctor about stopping.  It may cause other health problems to stop drinking suddenly
  3. Don’t “binge” drink (drink a lot in a short amount of time) because having four or more drinks in a row can cause large and sudden increases in blood pressure, in addition to other health problems.
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