Can Alcohol Cause Blood Pressure to Rise?

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Can Alcohol Cause Blood Pressure to Rise?

Studies have revealed that continued use of alcohol for consecutive days creates a more sustained increase in blood pressure level.

Keeping this in mind, long-term heavy drinking and consistent binge drinking can result in chronic hypertension - a risk factor for coronary artery illness.

High blood pressure is considered the most prevalent health issue related to alcohol.

A lot of people do not realize that they already have this condition, preventing them from seeking alcohol misuse treatment early on.

Drinking too much alcohol impacts muscles in blood vessels; this can lead to narrowing of the muscles. If you are a heavy drinker, then the risk of having hypertension is higher.

If you drink regularly, you are susceptible, especially if you are more than 35 years old. One drink per day can enhance the risk.

If the blood vessels are narrow, your heart needs to pump harder to push blood into your body. This leads to the blood pressure going up.

This condition can considerably increase the risk of the following:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Kidney disease
  • Vascular dementia because of lack of blood getting to your brain.

Scientists discovered that binge drinking increased the chance of hardening of arteries or atherosclerosis, resulting in stroke or heart attack.

To figure out how much alcohol is too much and how curbing or reducing it can reduce blood pressure, it might be valuable to know the meaning of too much or excessive drinking.

Excessive drinking is four or more times in two hours for females and five or more times in two hours for males.

Heavy drinking is above three drinks per day for females and four a day for males.

Moderate drinking is more than one drink per day for females and two a day for males.

Heavy drinkers who reduce the frequency of drinking can cut back their top number is systolic pressure by approximately 5.5 millimetres of mercury and diastolic pressure by approximately 44mm Hg.

If you are suffering from blood pressure, keep away from alcohol or drink in moderation.

This means one drink per day for females and two drinks per day for males for a healthy individual.

A drink is 355 millilitres of beer, 148 millilitres of wine, and 44 millilitres of 80 proof distilled spirits.

Always remember that alcohol has calories and might add to unnecessary weight gain – a factor for high blood pressure. 

What is more, alcohol also interacts with specific medications for blood pressure, which affects the efficiency of the drug in the body or increases side effects.

Alcohol is also rich in sugar that can lead to obesity, which further enhances the risk of high blood pressure in the long term.

Previous research has shown that a higher BMI is related to atherosclerosis, compounding the possibility of heart attack or stroke.

Even if anyone can develop this condition, there are specific factors known to increase the risk.

When a person has one alcoholic drink, it results in an acute rise in blood pressure, but this usually resolved in two hours.

How Does Alcohol Affect Blood Pressure?

Though health experts are still researching how it takes place, everybody knows that alcohol can increase blood pressure indirectly and directly.

The instant effects of alcohol on your blood pressure are associated with the way alcohol is processed in your system. Having over three drinks at one can shortly raise the blood pressure level.

However, once it is processed out of the body, usually blood pressure goes back to its normal condition.

In the same way, binge drinking- having five or more drinks in two hours for males and four or more drinks in two hours for females can lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure.

However, if binge drinking becomes a long-term excess, it might result in chronic hypertension or high blood pressure.

When it comes to indirect effects, alcohol has many sugars and calories that add to raise body fat, poor diet, and weight gain. These factors can result in high blood pressure.

Binge drinking at least five days a month tends to experience the indirect and direct effects of alcohol on blood pressure instead of mild drinkers.

To enhance blood pressure, it is worthwhile for heavy drinkers to slowly lessen their consumption by one to two servings a day until they're drinking not over 1 to 2 servings a day.

This is considered a mild or moderate drinker.

Can Alcohol Affect Blood Pressure Reading?

Does alcohol affect the reading of your blood pressure? Before answering this question, let us know first what blood pressure reading is.

If your physician reads your blood pressure, it is articulated as a measurement with two numbers, one on top, also known as systolic, and one number on the bottom or diastolic.

This looks like a fraction, like, for instance, 100/70 mm Hg.

The number on top is the number of pressure in the arteries during heart muscle contraction.

This is known as systolic pressure. The number on the bottom is the blood pressure once the heart of the muscle is between beat; this is known as diastolic pressure.

Both play a vital role in figuring out the condition of the heart's wellbeing. Numbers higher than the ideal range show that your heart is pumping blood too hard.

So, does blood reading is affected by drinking alcohol? Well, high blood pressure affects your wellbeing, and taking it is associated with increased blood pressure.

According to Mayo Clinic, blood pressure has been discovered to increase temporarily when you drink three or more shots of alcohol before taking or reading your blood pressure.

Repeated drinking, on the other hand, might result in a long-term increase in your blood pressure. The one-shot is regarded as 12oz of beer, 5oz of wine, and 1.5 hard drinks.

The UK Chief Medical Officers'(CMO) low-risk drinking guidelines believe that you must not regularly consume more than 14 units weekly to keep your blood pressure healthy and balance.

In most instances, moderate or light alcohol consumption can cause a slight decrease in your blood pressure.

On the other hand, this alteration is slight and is instantly reversed if more alcohol is taken. So, does blood pressure reading affected by drinking alcohol? The answer is yes!

Does Alcohol Affect Blood Pressure Medicine?

If you take any drugs for blood pressure, even the over-the-counter medication, you must know that alcohol consumption might affect how this drug or medicine works.

Mixing blood pressure medicine and alcohol can be dangerous. The combination can result in serious health consequences, which include overdose or, worse, death.

Blood pressure drugs are extensively prescribed to avoid or cure disorders of a cardiovascular system like:

  • high blood pressure
  • Angina (chest pain)
  • pulmonary hypertension
  • irregular heartbeat (arrhythmias)
  • heart attack
  • congestive heart failure

In one research, Breslow reported that out of 17,000 heavy drinkers, heart drugs were the medication class with the highest proportion of possible interactions with alcohol, at approximately 24%.

Blood pressure medication and alcohol interactions comprised a huge proportion of this group.

Alcohol might lower blood pressure in some patients.

Theoretically, medications for blood pressure and consumption of alcohol may worsen low blood pressure and result in side effects such as falling, fainting, light-headedness, dizziness, and drowsiness.

Suppose you combine high blood pressure drugs with alcohol, like, for instance, alpha-blockers and vasodilators.

You might experience orthostasis that is low blood pressure which happens once you stand up from lying or sitting down position. The effects might get worse at the start of the treatment.

This condition can result in a fall and injury and is considered a severe problem in an older patient.

There are many liver enzyme interactions with blood pressure drugs, potentially changing levels of the medication in the bloodstream.

A liver enzyme is accountable or in charge of breaking down drugs for secretion and flow from the system.

If you are experiencing a liver illness (for instance: cirrhosis) from too much alcohol consumption, it might affect how the blood pressure medications are broken down. A high level of medications can aggravate side effects.

Why Should You Not Mix Alcohol and Blood Pressure Medicines?

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism or NIAAA reported that there are many reasons that it can be dangerous to mix alcohol and blood pressure drugs.

The way that alcohol and drugs interact in the body can go both ways: drugs can change how you feel the impact of alcohol, and alcohol can change how this drug functions.

Alcohol can also make some drugs less effective by getting how the digestive tract absorbs them.

In most instances, alcohol enhances the drug's bioavailability, increasing the concentration of the drug in the blood to toxic levels.

What is more, drinking alcohol can make the harmful effects of a drug worse or cause new signs. This is particularly true to blood pressure drugs which cause sedation or makes you sleepy.

The combinations of alcohol and opiates can cause breathing to stop and can lead to death.

The label on the drug might not warn against drinking alcohol while taking medicine, so it is vital not to take for granted that the absence of warnings mean it is safe to combine the two.

When taking a drug for blood pressure, ask your physician if it is fine to consume alcohol.

You can drink a little shot safely, provided that you follow specific rules like waiting hours after consuming the drug before drinking. It would be best if you also were open about your habits in drinking.

Once you reduce the amount of alcohol you drink daily, your physician cannot precisely judge the benefits and risks of prescribing a drug.

What is more, if you have underlying health issues aside from high blood, mixing alcohol with the drugs can put you at risk for more complications.

Once the interaction between these two substances goes the other way, high blood pressure medication can change how the body reacts to alcohol drinks.

In some instances, mixing blood pressure medicine and alcohol can result in alcohol poisoning or overdose, both of which are life-threatening medical emergencies.

The effects of blood pressure medication and alcohol also reliant on specific individual factors.

Like for instance, a female can experience its effects seriously than a male due to the disparities in metabolism.

Older adults, especially people who take more drugs, not just for blood pressure, tend to experience issues, as the capability to clear drugs and alcohol from the system is lessened with age.

Some Classes of Medications that Can Be Affect by Alcohol

Alpha-blockers: These are utilized for high blood pressure and have considerable interaction with alcoholic drinks.

Mixing alpha-blockers and alcohol can result in too much hypotension as well as sedation. 

For instance, once the centrally acting alpha-blocker Catapress or the Cardura, a peripherally acting alpha-blocker drug, is combined with alcoholic drinks, there's a high risk for too much low blood pressure the improved risk for a fall, drowsiness, among others.

Ask your physician before taking an alpha-blocker with alcoholic drinks; you might be suggested to limit or avoid use.

Isosorbide and nitroglycerin are antianginal agents and vasodilators used to avoid chest pain or too much pressure from angina.

Hypotension or low blood pressure and sedation might result if one of these preparations is taken with alcohol.

For instance, beta-blockers like metoprolol or atenolol might result in additive blood pressure-lowering if mixed with alcohol.

Dizziness, light-headedness, headache, fainting, and changes in heart or pulse rate might happen, particularly at the start of management or with the changes in doses.

Moderate consumption of alcohol might be permissible with various heart medications.

On the other hand, it is vital to ask your pharmacist or doctor when a new drug is prescribed for any alcohol-related medicine interactions.

Abbeycare clinics are available in Scotland and Gloucester to help you experience a more holistic treatment process for your alcoholism. Call us today on 01603 513 091 to schedule an appointment.

Last Updated: March 31, 2023

About the author

Peter Szczepanski

Peter has been on the GPhC register for 29 years. He holds a Clinical Diploma in Advanced Clinical Practice and he is a Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Misuse for Abbeycare Gloucester and works as the Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Use in Worcestershire. Peter also co-authored the new 6th edition of Drugs In Use by Linda Dodds, writing Chapter 15 on Alcohol Related Liver Disease. Find Peter on Respiratory Academy, Aston University graduates, University of Birmingham, Q, Pharmaceutical Journal, the Dudley Pharmaceutical Committee, Dudley Council, Twitter, and LinkedIn.