Does Alcohol Lower Blood Pressure Temporarily?
Drinking alcohol can seem like a casual way to relax, or something you do without giving it much thought, but the effects of drinking, particularly in excess, are far-reaching and often severe. Alcohol affects your mind and your body, sometimes in profound ways.
One area that people frequently wonder about is alcohol and blood pressure. Does alcohol lower blood pressure temporarily, or does it have another effect on blood pressure?
Below is information about blood pressure in general, and things to know about alcohol and blood pressure.
High blood pressure is a common condition in the U.S., and it’s linked to many things such as obesity, certain medications, and other lifestyle factors.
High blood pressure is manageable and can be reduced by making changes in your lifestyle and often medications as well, but what if it goes untreated?
High blood pressure that’s not controlled can cause heart attacks, stroke, and heart failure. It can also lead to kidney failure, vision loss, angina, and something called peripheral artery disease.
If your blood pressure is too high for too long, it can cause damage to your blood vessels, and that can cause tears in artery walls. Not only are you at risk for serious and often deadly conditions, but it can diminish your quality of life.
It’s important to learn what factors in your life influence your blood pressure and take steps to keep it at a healthy level.
There are ways you can control your blood pressure even without the use of medicine to reduce the risk of outcomes like heart disease. For example, losing weight particularly around your abdomen is incredibly helpful, as is regular physical activity. A blood pressure-friendly diet should include whole grains, vegetables, and fruit and it should limit saturated fat and cholesterol, as well as sodium.
So, what about alcohol and blood pressure? Does alcohol lower blood pressure temporarily, or is the effect quite the opposite?
However, the positive effects of alcohol and blood pressure are quickly lost if you drink too much. The recommended maximum amount of alcohol you should have in a day is one drink if you’re a woman, and no more than two if you’re a man. If you’re a man older than age 65, the recommendation is no more than one drink a day as well.
You should note what’s meant by one drink because this is important. The servings you’re used to may be the same as two or more drinks.
In terms of alcohol and blood pressure, a serving would be 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.
With alcohol and blood pressure, if you drink more than this it can raise your blood pressure by several points, and you may also reduce how well your medications are able to work for treating high blood pressure.
A lot of people are also under the impression that red wine is a cure-all healthy alcoholic drink, particularly regarding heart health and things like blood pressure. It’s true that red wine can have some health-related benefits, but again, only in moderation.
If you’re concerned about your blood pressure, you shouldn’t try to self-medicate with alcohol. Instead, you should follow the recommendations of your physician or healthcare provider.
The answer is no, not necessarily.
Drinking in extreme moderation may have benefits for your blood pressure, but with alcohol and blood pressure that word moderation is very important. Moderate drinking is defined as having no more than one drink a day if you’re a woman, or a man over the age of 65, and no more than two drinks if you’re a man younger than 65.
If you drink more than that alcohol can have a detrimental effect on your blood pressure. It’s also important to note with alcohol and blood pressure that drinking can reduce the effectiveness of any medications you take.
If you binge drink in one sitting, it can temporarily raise your blood pressure levels, and if you’re a chronic binge-drinker, these increases can become long-term.
If you’re a heavy drinker and you cut back you can significantly lower your blood pressure, although you might not want to stop suddenly, because that can actually cause a spike in blood pressure. Instead, if heavy drinkers want to lower their blood pressure, they should consider slowly tapering their use of alcohol.
You should always rely on your physician first and foremost for information and recommendations about alcohol and blood pressure.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.
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