People that consume alcohol in excess(which is over two drinks per day) are twice as likely to have problems with high blood pressure or hypertension. The link between alcohol and hypertension is very noticeable when the alcohol intake exceeds five drinks in one day. Therefore, the connection is a dose-related phenomenon. Alcohol consumption is also related to weight gain, which is a precursor to hypertension. Usually, doctors stress about the effects of sodium intake on blood pressure, but does alcohol raise blood pressure as well?
The relationship between regular alcohol consumption and blood pressure has been described in several epidemiological surveys. Drinking one alcoholic beverage can cause an acute rise in blood pressure that subsides after two hours. (1)
In alcoholics, hypertension is very common but settles after withdrawal from alcohol. This may raise the possibility that alcohol only has a short-term effect on blood pressure.
But can alcoholics experience long-term consequences for their blood pressure?
In a study of 577 subjects, these people were examined in an occupational screening survey. They were all employees at a factory and each was screened by a single investigator. The experiment was done in a warm, quiet room on a weekday and they were measured for their blood pressure after being seated and relaxed for five minutes. These subjects were required to fill out a questionnaire of their alcohol intake every day so that their long-term blood pressure could be recorded.
Blood pressure results were adjusted for age, type of alcohol consumed and body mass index(BMI).
Of the 577 subjects, 272 were men and 305 were women. The mean age of the subjects was 45 years.
The results of the study support the hypothesis that the high blood pressure measurement was much higher for the few days after alcohol consumption. After a few days of being completely sober, hypertension seemed to completely disappear. Therefore, alcohol appears to have a rapidly reversible effect on people that suffer from high blood pressure. (1)
Doctors are encouraged to inform their patients with hypertension that alcohol can be detrimental to their well-being and should consider cutting back for the sake of their health, especially in the case of daily consumption.
Moderate Consumption of Alcohol if You Have Hypertension
If you keep to the recommended limits for alcohol, this will help keep your blood pressure down. The current limit for consumption is 14 drinks a week for both men and women. (2)
Units of Alcohol in Each Drink
- Single shot of spirit: 1 unit of alcohol
- Pint of regular or light beer: 2 units of alcohol
- Medium glass of wine: 2 units of alcohol
- Full glass of wine: 3 units of alcohol
- Pint of strong or dark beer: 4 units of alcohol
Drinking Less Alcohol Tips
Even if you don’t have high blood pressure, you will still benefit from drinking less alcohol because it has many drawbacks to your health. Here are some tips on avoiding alcohol as best you can throughout your weekend. (2)
- Low-alcohol drinks. Liquor stores almost always carry reduced-alcohol beers.
- Checking labels – alcoholic drink labels will often tell you the amount of units it contains.
- Drink more slowly by adding mixers or water to dilute your drink.
- Avoid salty foods because they will make you thirsty and want more to drink.
- Buy a measure for when you are drinking at home.
- Avoid peer-pressure situations like parties and bars.
- Replace the stress-relieving behavior with something beneficial and healthy.
Other Adverse Effects of Alcohol
Alcoholism is a very serious medical disease with symptoms that are unique depending on each person and the amount consumed regularly. The progression of alcoholism will eventually lead to disruption of the progress of your life and the well-being of your families.
Physical signs of acute intoxication:
- Slurred or incoherent speech
- Poor balance
- Delayed reflexes
- Stomach pains, nausea or vomiting
- Redness of the face and eyes.
If alcohol poisoning occurs, the respiratory system will become depressed and the person will not be able to breathe naturally. They need immediate medical attention. (3)
Health Effects of Alcohol
Immediately, alcohol depresses your central nervous system and slows down communication of your brain cells. The most important effect is the one on your brain’s limbic system, the way humans have evolved to develop motivation, pleasurable rewards for benefit, and personality.
- Damage to the liver is possible because alcohol causes the liver to become stiff.
- Ethanol buildup reduces the ability to form memories. Alcohol causes the hippocampus to shrink, which affects memory and learning
- Systemic inflammation is evident. Your body reacts to alcohol in the same way that it reacts to an infection or injury
- Increases endotoxin levels, which means that alcohol will damage the gut lining and allow bacteria to escape into the blood stream.
Exercise May Minimize the Risks of Alcohol Consumption
Exercise is essential for good health, but it is even more important if you drink regularly or have hypertension. According to recent studies, chronic drinkers that exercise at least five hours a week have the same rate of death as non-drinkers. Perhaps the exercise counteracts the inflammation caused by alcohol.
Exercise may also reduce the risk of alcohol dependence. The white matter in your brain is the communication pathway that makes connections between actions and rewards. Since you are getting pleasurable reward as dopamine from alcohol, you will crave more. However, exercise may counteract this by reducing cravings by replacing the pleasurable reward. (5)
Natural Supplements That Minimize Hypertension With Alcohol Consumption
It is not recommended that you ever drink alcohol, but everyone is entitled to a few drinks once in a while if they feel like it. You can take precautions to prepare your organs for the damage so that the future of your health will not suffer. Aside from being responsible and avoiding binge drinking, you can take:
- B Vitamins: B6 seems to reduce hangover symptoms. The vitamin B’s are depleted by alcohol and required to eliminate it from the body. Take a B supplement before and after consumption of alcohol.
- Milk Thistle: Contains silymarin and silybin, compounds known to act as antioxidants for your liver that protect it from the damage of alcohol, as well as repair it. Milk thistle contains glutathione, which helps regenerate liver cells.
- Vitamin C: Alcohol depleted the body of Vitamin C. It’s important to take because it reduces the oxidative effect of alcohol after consumption.
- Magnesium: Another nutrient depleted by alcohol that many people are already deficient in. It has many anti-inflammatory properties as well as benefits for the brain. Magnesium is a precursor to serotonin, which promotes calmness. This may be why alcoholics are often agitated.(6)
Does Alcohol Raise Blood Pressure?
According to research, the answer is yes. In the short-term, alcohol definitely increases blood pressure significantly within the first few hours of drinking and subsides after a few days. If you have hypertension, it is highly recommended to reduce your intake of alcohol as well as salt.
More efforts to reduce blood pressure can include eating a balanced diet, reducing stress naturally with exercise, losing weight and quitting smoking.
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