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Drinking alcohol with high blood pressure: Doctor's verdict

Drinking alcohol with high blood pressure: Doctor's verdict Photo: How alcohol affects blood pressure (freepik/com)

Sometimes it is difficult to avoid alcoholic beverages during social events, but excessive drinking can increase your risk of high blood pressure. If you already have high blood pressure, your doctor may have advised you to drink alcohol in moderation and reduce your overall alcohol intake. VeryWell Health explains whether you need to drink alcohol to raise your blood pressure.

How does alcohol affect blood pressure

When you drink alcohol, it can increase the excitability of the sympathetic nervous system. When it is stimulated or "activated" by stress or alcohol consumption, it works harder than usual.

When it is activated by alcohol, your heart rate can increase and your blood vessels can constrict. This can contribute to health problems such as high blood pressure.

Sahadeo Ramnauth, MD, said that alcohol can also impair or reduce "baroreceptors in the brain that would sense blood pressure". These baroreceptors regulate blood pressure by detecting changes and signaling the body to adjust. When they are disrupted by alcohol consumption, the body may not respond as effectively to changes in blood pressure, leading to persistent high blood pressure.

Alcohol also stimulates the release of adrenaline and puts the body into fight-or-flight mode, which leads to high blood pressure.

“This complex interplay leads to elevated blood pressure and subsequent hypertension,” Ramnauth said. However, “since everyone has different physiology, many people may react to the same amount of alcohol in diverse ways,” the expert adds.

How much alcohol can you drink if you have high blood pressure

According to Louis Morledge, MD, a board-certified internist, the safe amount of alcohol for a person with high blood pressure depends on factors such as individual health, age, weight, fitness level, etc.

“If you have high blood pressure, it’s probably in your best interest to drink minimally,” Morledge said.

In general, experts say that people with high blood pressure should not exceed moderate alcohol consumption, i.e. one or fewer drinks per day for women and two or fewer drinks per day for men.

According to Sameer Amin, MD, cardiologist, it is not the type of alcohol that matters, but rather the frequency of consumption.

“It is generally understood that effect on one’s health is more dependent on the amount of alcohol consumed, as opposed to the type of alcohol,” he assured.

In addition to reducing your alcohol consumption, you can make lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise and stress management, to lower your blood pressure.

“The best ways to maintain good health and lower blood pressure is by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and maintaining a good diet that is low in salt and predominantly made up of unprocessed foods,” Amin said.

This material is for informational purposes only and should not be used for medical diagnosis or self-treatment. Our goal is to provide readers with accurate information about symptoms, causes, and methods of detecting diseases. RBС-Ukraine is not responsible for any diagnoses that readers may make based on materials from the resource. We do not recommend self-treatment and advise consulting a doctor in case of any health concerns.