Can Alcohol Cause Blood Pressure To Rise?

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Yes, alcohol can cause blood pressure to rise, as a result of:

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Alcohol Induced Hypertension Theories


Alcohol intake increases renin, causing blood vessels to constrict, resulting in high blood pressure [2].

Renin activity tests have been proven to indicate high blood pressure and are recommended by healthcare professionals [3].

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Vasopressin & Alcohol As A Diuretic

Alcohol consumption decreases levels of vasopressin, exacerbating the diuretic effect of alcohol, leading to high blood pressure [4].

Vasopressin tests in the kidneys are a proven indicator of high blood pressure [5].


Increased cortisol levels from alcohol intake releases catecholamines, causing more fluids in the body, that increase blood pressure [6].


Alcohol consumption decreases baroreceptors' ability to regulate blood pressure, causing greater risk of hypertension [7].

Additional Risks As A Result Of Alcohol Induced Hypertension

Health Conditions

Alcohol induced hypertension causes:

  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Vascular dementia
  • Kidney disease [8]


Men who binge drink having a 12 fold chance of a stroke due to hypertension, leading to disability in 50% of stroke survivors [9] [10].

Cardiovascular Mortality

Men with a severe alcoholic hypertension have a 12 fold increased risk of cardiovascular disease mortality [11].


Groups At Risk Of Developing Alcohol Related Hypertension

Those Who Drink Alcohol Without Food

Those who regularly drink alcohol without eating, have a 64% higher chance of developing alcoholic hypertension [12].


Those suffering with obesity have a 3.5 fold increased risk of alcohol related hypertension compared with those of a normal weight [13].


There is an increase in blood pressure levels of older adults, specifically between 40-59 [14].


Men have a 95% increased risk of alcohol related hypertension with light to moderate alcohol consumption [15].




Older Age


Risk Level?


+64% [16]

+350% [17]

+90% [18]

+95% [19]

Hypertension Triggered By Specific Alcohol Intake Levels

The safe level to consume alcohol without increasing blood pressure is less than 3 drinks in one sitting [20].

Intake Level

6 Hours After Drink

12 Hours After Drink

<14 g

No effect

No effect

14-28 g

Decreased Blood Pressure 5.6 mmHg


Over 30 g

Decreased Blood Pressure 3.7 mmHg

Increased Blood Pressure 3.7 mmHg [21]

Hypertension Triggered By Specific Drinking Patterns


Casual Drinking

Binge Drinking

Chronic Alcoholism

Stage 1 Hypertension

1.5 times increased risk

1.5 times increased risk

2.5 times increased risk

Stage 2 Hypertension

2 times increased risk

2 times increased risk

2.5 times increased risk [22]

Hypertension Triggered By Other Factors

Family History of Addiction

Combining drinking too much alcohol with a family history of addiction means that children of alcoholics are 4 times more likely to become alcoholics, begin drinking at a young age and develop side effects such as hypertension as a result of alcohol addiction [23].

A family history of alcoholism and hypertension has a co morbidity of 3.5% [24].


Smoking causes a 2 to 3 fold increase in alcoholic hypertension [25].


The risk of alcoholic hypertension increases 50% in diabetes sufferers [26].


Alcohol & Blood Pressure Medication

Blood pressure medications combined with drinking alcohol lowers blood pressure by up to 3.7%, and leads to side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness or fainting [27] [28].

The risks of interactions increase due to:

  • How high or low blood pressure was previously
  • Being older - becomes more difficult for the body to clear both medication and alcohol [29]

Precautions that those taking blood pressure medications should consider when drinking alcohol are:

  • Moderate drinking - less than 14 units of alcohol per week [30]
  • Eating before drinking to reduce the effects that alcohol has on blood pressure
  • Checking blood pressure with a monitor after drinking

When It Looks Like Alcohol Induced Hypertension, But Isn't

Reasons symptoms may present as alcohol induced hypertension, when in fact the hypertension is not caused by alcohol, are:

  • Dehydrating illnesses - diabetes and kidney disease cause a diuretic effect that create a positive vasopressin test result not caused by alcohol [31]
  • Caffeine - drinking more than 4 cups of coffee per day may cause an increase in blood pressure [32]
  • Medication - the contraceptive pill, steroids or naproxen may affect blood pressure
  • Family history - higher or lower blood pressure is genetic, particularly in those from a Black African or Caribbean descent [33] [34]

In order to rule out alcohol induced hypertension, clinicians should:

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About the author

Harriet Garfoot

Harriet Garfoot BA, MA has an Undergraduate degree in Education Studies and English, and a Master's degree in English Literature, from Bishop Grosseteste University. Harriet writes on stress & mental health, and is a member of the Burney Society. Content reviewed by Laura Morris (Clinical Lead).

Last Updated: December 6, 2023