Unfortunately, there are many factors contributing to high blood pressure, and alcohol consumption is one of them. If you drink heavily, the odds are greater that you will develop high blood pressure, which is a known health issue in the U.S. If you do not control the problem, it can increase the risk of severe medical conditions, including stroke, heart attack, and heart failure.
An approximate 75 million adults in the United States struggle with high blood pressure, translating to one in three Americans. This accounts for 54 percent of strokes and 47 percent of ischemic heart disease events. Alcohol consumption contributes to high blood pressure and can make it much worse.
Men are at greater risk of high blood pressure than women at 47 percent versus 43 percent, and the condition affects black adults more than non-Hispanic white adults. High blood pressure also causes a significant toll on the economy, costing the country an estimated $131 billion each year.
What Is High Blood Pressure?
Each time your heart beats, it’s pumping blood into your arteries. The blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the arterial walls. Each time it beats, blood pressure is highest and gets measured as systolic pressure, which is the top number on a blood pressure reading. In between heartbeats, blood pressure is much lower, and this is known as diastolic pressure.
Blood pressure includes the measurements of both systolic and diastolic numbers, and the former comes before the latter. It’s important to understand blood pressure and the numbers, which we’ll provide below:
- Normal blood pressure: Less than 120/80 mmHg
- Prehypertension (at risk): Between 120/80 mmHg and 139/89 mmHg
- Stage 1 Hypertension: Between 130-139 mmHg/80-89 mmHg
- Stage 2 Hypertension: Higher than 140/90 mmHg
- Hypertension Crisis (requiring hospitalization): higher than 180/120 mmHg
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a person’s blood pressure remaining elevated longer than usual. If it continues high over time, it will cause the heart to pump harder consistently.
Increased cardiovascular stress may lead to severe health issues that include:
- Kidney problems
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
Causes of High Blood Pressure
Family history and genetics may also be factors that increase the chances of having hypertension. However, behavioral problems and lifestyle can also increase the risk. Other factors that cause high blood pressure include:
- Being overweight
- Unhealthy diet
- Physically inactive
- Alcohol consumption
High blood pressure is commonly referred to as the silent killer because it lacks warning signs or symptoms, and many people don’t know they are suffering from it.
Alcohol’s Effect on High Blood Pressure
Despite the fact anyone can develop high blood pressure, certain factors increase a person’s chances of developing it, including alcohol consumption. When someone has an alcohol drink, it causes an acute rise in blood pressure, although it should resolve within two hours.
According to the American Heart Association, the best way to prevent high blood pressure is to limit alcohol intake to no more than two drinks per day for men and no more than one drink per day for women. By doing this, it can help fight many of the issues caused by alcohol.
Does Alcohol Cause A Rise in Blood Pressure?
Continued alcohol consumption across several days will cause a sustained increase in blood pressure. Since this occurs, binge drinking and long-term heavy drinking may cause chronic hypertension, which is a risk factor for coronary artery disease.
Scientists found that binge drinking increases the development of atherosclerosis, otherwise known as narrowing and hardening of the arteries, leading to a heart attack or stroke. Although your alcohol consumption may not seem deadly at the moment, it could be causing long-term and lasting effects.
It is high in sugar and calories, and alcohol is associated with body weight and obesity that can cause further issues of elevating the risk of high blood pressure in the long-term. Those who drink in excess don’t commonly exercise, which is one way to combat these issues.
Individuals with higher BMI are also associated with atherosclerosis, compounding the risks of heart attack or stroke.
How to Treat Alcohol-Related Hypertension
The American Heart Association advises limiting alcohol intake to avoid developing high blood pressure. As was mentioned above, women should consume no more than one drink a day, and no more than two drinks a day for men. Other guidelines for reducing the risk of high blood pressure include the following:
- Men younger than 65: No more than two drinks a day on average, with at least two sober days per week
- Men older than 65: No more than a single drink per day on average with sober days
- Women of any age: Less than one drink a day with two sober days a week
Immediate cessation or reduction of alcohol consumption will lower high blood pressure levels right away. However, if you’ve been consuming alcohol for an extended period or in extreme amounts, you may want to speak with a physician before stopping. It could lead to withdrawal symptoms that are fatal without the right help. This could also lead to higher blood pressure, seizures, or delirium tremens (DTs).
A person who’s struggling with alcohol use disorder won’t be able to control their alcohol use, and compulsive abuse will continue despite the adverse ramifications, which might include emotional distress if they are not drinking.
Alcohol withdrawal refers to symptoms that could occur when a heavy or long-term drinker decides to suddenly stop drinking. If this is the case, you’ll need immediate medical attention to overcome this problem.
Medical Detox for Alcohol Withdrawal
If you’re facing alcohol withdrawal, you can’t do it alone. You should speak to a medical professional to discover your options, but they’ll likely direct you to supervised medical detox. During this time, you’ll receive 24-hour care for up to seven days while the alcohol is safely removed from your system. You might be given medications to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms and help your body adjust to life without alcohol.
Unfortunately, detox alone may not be enough to stop you from drinking and harming your blood pressure. You might need to move into the next level of care, which might include residential or outpatient services that help you get to the root of what pushes you to drink. This could be the difference between life and death. If this sounds like you, recovery is only a phone call away. You should call to find out your options and get the help you need.