Blood Pressure

How Does Alcohol Increase Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure can result from a variety of factors. But, does alcohol increase blood pressure? Yes, the more you drink, the higher your risk of developing high blood pressure. But how does alcohol increase blood pressure? 

In the U.S., high blood pressure is a common health problem. In fact, almost 75 million adults have high blood pressure. Unfortunately, it can lead to severe medical conditions such as heart failure, stroke, and heart attack. 

What is Blood Pressure?

Each heartbeat pumps blood into the arteries. Blood pressure is the force of this blood pushing against arterial walls. Blood pressure is at it’s highest when your heartbeats. This pressure is known as your systolic pressure and is the first recorded number. Your blood pressure is at it’s lowest in between beats and is the diastolic number. 

Factors of High Blood Pressure

Some critical blood pressure thresholds include:

  • Normal – Less than 120/80 mmHg
  • Prehypertension – Between 120/80 and 129/89 mmHg
  • Stage 1 Hypertension – Between 130/80 and 139/89 mmHg
  • Stage 2 Hypertension – 140/90 mmHg and higher
  • Hypertension crisis – over 180/120 mmHg

High blood pressure is when your blood pressure stays elevated longer than usual. Also called hypertension, high blood pressure makes the heart beat harder. Over time, this can lead to kidney disease, stroke, and heart attack.

Causes of High Blood Pressure: Does Alcohol Increase Blood Pressure?

Family history and genetics increase your risk of hypertension. But your lifestyle and behaviors can also increase your risk. However, high blood pressure is a silent killer because of the lack of symptoms.

Lifestyle factors that increase your risk may include:

  • Unhealthy eating habits
  • Being overweight
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Substance Use Disorder (SUD), particularly Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

Does Alcohol Increase Blood Pressure?

Anyone can develop high blood pressure. But, certain factors can increase your risk, such as drinking alcohol. Just one alcoholic drink can increase blood pressure, although it typically corrects itself in 2 hours. 

Factors of High Blood Pressure: How Does Alcohol Increase Blood Pressure? 

Blood pressure is also indirectly affected by alcohol. This effect is because alcohol affects the entire body, which affects blood pressure. These effects include:

  • Nervous system – Although little is known about the effects of alcohol on the nervous system, alcohol can affect nerves throughout the body. And, the nervous system helps control blood pressure.
  • Change in pressure receptors – Baroreceptors sense blood pressure and make adjustments when needed. Alcohol affects these receptors and increases blood pressure. 
  • Increases cortisol – Cortisol, a stress hormone, can raise blood pressure. Alcohol increases cortisol production, therefore increasing blood pressure. 
  • Increases calcium levels – Alcohol increases calcium amounts in the muscles that line arteries. As a result, the arteries become constricted, which elevates blood pressure.
  • Weight – Blood pressure increases if you are overweight. Alcohol is empty calories that, over time, cause weight gain and increases blood pressure. 

One factor alone does not cause high blood pressure. Instead, it is a combination of factors that together leads to high blood pressure.

High Blood Pressure: Does Beer Raise Blood Pressure?

Heavy and regular consumption of alcohol can increase blood pressure. For this reason, it’s crucial to drink in moderation. Furthermore, it can lead to irregular heartbeats, stroke, and heart failure. 

Drinking in moderation means two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. A standard drink is:

  • 12 oz beer
  • 4 oz glass of wine
  • 1.5 oz of 80-proof liquor
  • 1 oz of 100-proof liquor

Binge Drinking: Does Alcohol Increase Blood Pressure?

Does alcohol increase blood pressure? Yes. In addition, drinking over several days, binge drinking, and long-term heavy drinking can cause chronic hypertension, which is a risk factor for coronary artery disease. 

Furthermore, binge drinking can lead to atherosclerosis. This condition is the narrowing and hardening of arteries, which increases blood pressure. Between the increase in sugar from binge drinking and the constant rise in blood pressure, it puts people in danger of a stroke or heart attack.

Explaining the Phases of Alcoholism and How Does Alcohol Increase Blood Pressure?

There are five phases to explain alcoholism and high blood pressure. They include:

  • Phase 1: Alcohol does lead to an increase in blood pressure. The effects of alcohol on blood pressure are independent of age, race, and sex.
  • Phase 2: Abstaining from alcohol will reduce both systolic and diastolic numbers.
  • Phase 3: Resuming the consumption of alcohol increases blood pressure again.
  • Phase 4: The continuous rise in blood pressure can lead to liver damage.
  • Phase 5: The onset of end-stage liver disease is when blood pressure is typically it’s highest.

Should You Drink With High Blood Pressure?

If you have high blood pressure, you should avoid drinking alcohol. Doctors often recommend exercise and a healthy diet for those with high blood pressure. And part of a healthy diet is avoiding alcohol. 

What is Blood Pressure

Although alcohol does contribute to high blood pressure, the American Heart Association (AHA) says those with hypertension should drink in moderation. However, the less you drink, the better it is. Furthermore, The AHA recommendations may not work for everyone, so it’s crucial to talk to your doctor.

Low Blood Pressure and Drinking Alcohol

If you have low blood pressure, does alcohol increase blood pressure? You should never use alcohol to treat low blood pressure. In fact, people with low blood pressure can still raise blood pressure when drinking alcohol.

Can Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder Reverse High Blood Pressure?

Alcohol use disorder is treatable but is it possible to reverse alcohol-induced high blood pressure?

Although there are multiple ways to treat alcohol-related high blood pressure, the most effective is to quit drinking. But, this lifestyle change isn’t easy. Above all, you are not alone. Our therapists at Sana Lake walk with you through our comprehensive, holistic addiction treatment.

It’s More than Just Treating Alcohol Use Disorder

Although treatment for alcohol use disorder will help normalize blood pressure, it takes more than just addiction treatment. A healthy lifestyle is required for normal blood pressure. So, regular exercise and physical activity can go a long way to healing your body.

Instead of sitting in front of the tv with a beer, take a walk, a bike ride, or play sports with friends. A healthy diet goes hand-in-hand with exercise. Throw out the junk food and replace it with fruits and vegetables. 

The healthier you become, the higher your motivation to maintain Recovery for Life. 

How Does Stress and How Does Alcohol Increase Blood Pressure?

A huge part of a healthy lifestyle is managing stress. Stress especially plays a role in high blood pressure. When stress and alcohol use disorder are combined, you are at a greater risk of high blood pressure.

In treatment for alcohol use disorder, you will learn coping skills to manage stress. Stress management not only lowers blood pressure but also encourages lasting recovery. 

What to Expect in Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder

Misusing alcohol is a serious problem that affects your health and quality of life. We have focused on how alcohol increases blood pressure, but there is more. Alcohol also causes other adverse effects, such as work and relationship problems. 

High Blood Pressure

Depending on the severity of your alcohol use disorder and other factors, inpatient treatment is highly recommended. Even though blood pressure typically returns to normal when you stop drinking, it can sometimes increase. 

For this reason, medical detox and inpatient treatment provide 24-hour supervision. In detox, this supervision can manage withdrawal symptoms as they begin. At the same time, inpatient addiction programs offer safety and supervision to prevent the recurrence of use. 

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of alcohol use disorder can prevent you from having to ask, “Does alcohol increase blood pressure?”

  • Drinking more than intended
  • Unable to stop drinking
  • Drinking to cope with mental and physical issues
  • Blacking out from drinking
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Relationship issues
  • Job loss because of alcohol use
  • Legal troubles such as a DUI

Inpatient Treatment at Sana Lake

Besides inpatient treatment providing a safe environment free from drugs and alcohol, it also eliminates distractions and fears that interfere with recovery. Furthermore, it can be challenging to find support in recovery. Maybe you pushed away your family and healthy friends when they didn’t accept your addiction. But, group therapy proves you are not alone in recovery. 

Inpatient treatment gives members the chance to receive and provide support and guidance to motivate and encourage Recovery for Life. Our inpatient program offers individualized treatment plans that include individual and group traditional and holistic therapies. Our therapies focus on ensuring members feel heard and understood as well as recover from past traumas. 

Improve Your Life and Health at Sana Lake Recovery

If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol use disorder, there is hope. You deserve to be happy and healthy while living your best life. Contact us today, and start your recovery journey.

References: 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16922819/

https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/changes-you-can-make-to-manage-high-blood-pressure/limiting-alcohol-to-manage-high-blood-pressure

https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/01.HYP.0000218586.21932.3c

Article Reviewed by David Sherman, MD

David Sherman, MD is a Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (FASAM) and board certified in Addiction Medicine with the American Board of Preventive Medicine. He is a native Missourian and graduated medical school at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine. Dr. Sherman completed a two-year fellowship in Addiction Medicine at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He leads a highly trained staff of master level certified addiction professionals. Men and women from all over Missouri and the United States come to Sana Lake Recovery Center to get the care they need and deserve.