Alcohol and Blood Pressure

Although you may not think that drinking alcohol could cause lots of different health problems, recent research has come to light that shows a definite link between alcohol consumption and high blood pressure, which left untreated can lead to heart attacks, kidney failure and eye damage. High blood pressure can also cause narrowing of the arteries, strokes or aneurysms, which are all conditions that can cause further medical problems.

The research that has recently been released with regards to alcohol levels and blood pressure shows that with each gram of alcohol consumed, systolic blood pressure is put up by 0.24mmHg and diastolic blood pressure is put up by 0.16mmHg. This means that one pint of beer with 2 units of alcohol, each with 8 grams of alcohol, will put the blood pressure up by 4mmHg. Drinking more than this will increase blood pressure even more, which could tip blood pressure into dangerously high levels. Drinking more alcohol than this will also cause you to gain weight, as alcohol actually has rather high calorific values. The heavier you weigh, the more likely you’ll be to develop high blood pressure, so you’re pretty much twice as much at risk as a person who does not drink alcohol.

Normal blood pressure levels should be below 130/80, or ideally at that level. Although blood pressure will naturally fluctuate due to stress or other environmental circumstances, the average level should be below this number.

A careful study of alcohol consumption and blood pressure recommended that people should drink less than six drinks per week, and ideally no more than seven. More than this could cause severe damage to the brain, meaning that it will not function as well as it is able to. Brain damage also puts you at risk of a number of other medical conditions, not just high blood pressure, such as seizures and dementia-type symptoms.

Keeping to the recommended weekly intake of alcohol should help to lower your risk of high blood pressure –  but don’t think that just drinking less alcohol will prevent you from developing high blood pressure completely. Smoking can increase your risk of high blood pressure, as could being overweight and consuming excessively fatty or salty foods. Having a stressful lifestyle will also increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, so try to relax and reduce all stressors in your life.

Drinking every day, even if you only drink two units per day, could cause you to develop a dependence on drinking. Drinking every day over the holidays or whilst you’re away on holiday will not cause you to have a problem; but drinking every day when you have no occasion or no reason to be drinking can cause you to develop a dependency on alcohol that can lead to some of the problems mentioned above.

If you’ve made a number of lifestyle changes with regards to your high blood pressure, such as changing your diet, quitting smoking, cutting back on drinking and trying to reduce stress in your life and you still have high blood pressure, you may need to be put on medication in order to bring your blood pressure under control. This medication may need to be taken for the rest of your life or until your blood pressure is at a low enough level that it can be stabilized without the need for medication. If you are on medication for your high blood pressure, don’t come off the medication without consulting with your doctor as your blood pressure could spike dangerously without the medication. If you want to know more about high blood pressure and the link to alcohol consumption, speak to your doctor.