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Alcohol & Health
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Updated on February 2, 2023
4 min read

Alcohol and Blood Pressure

Can You Get High Blood Pressure From Drinking Alcohol?

Yes, consuming more than three drinks in a single session can lead to a short-term increase in blood pressure. Also, excessive alcohol consumption can cause long-term high blood pressure, known as chronic hypertension.

Systolic blood pressure measures the pressure when your heart beats. Diastolic blood pressure measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats. Alcohol can cause both systolic and diastolic blood pressure to reach unhealthy levels.

Everyone is at risk of developing high blood pressure from drinking any amount of alcohol, regardless of prior health status. However, you risk developing hypertension complications if you already have high blood pressure.

Other factors that cause alcohol to increase your blood pressure include:

  • Increased weight gain and fat deposition
  • Interaction with certain blood pressure medications

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What is High Blood Pressure?

When your heart beats, it sends blood around your body to give it the nutrients and oxygen it needs. Pressure is required to make the blood circulate by pushing against the walls of your arteries.

Blood pressure involves the heart pumping against the resistance in artery walls. A normal heart easily sends blood around the body at low pressure.

The higher tension there is in the artery walls, the higher the blood pressure. Increased blood pressure will make your heart work harder.

What are the Risks of High Blood Pressure?

When you have high blood pressure, your arteries must carry blood flowing under greater pressure. This can place a strain on your arteries and heart, which increases the risk of:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Kidney disease
  • Peripheral artery disease

You can't usually feel or notice high blood pressure because some people have no symptoms. Many people go undiagnosed with this condition. However, it's common with other metabolic problems like weight gain and obesity.

Moderate Drinking and Blood Pressure

Moderate alcohol usage is defined as two drinks or less per day for men. For women, moderate drinking is defined as one or fewer drinks per day.8

Switching from heavy or binge drinking to moderate drinking can decrease your systolic and diastolic readings.7 However, studies on the effects of alcohol on blood pressure are conflicting.

Some suggest moderate alcohol consumption improves heart health. Other studies show moderate drinking can cause:7

  • High blood pressure
  • Chronic hypertension
  • Heart problems

Moderate alcohol consumption may be allowed with certain high blood pressure medications. Always consult a doctor or pharmacist first.


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How to Stay in Control of Your Drinking

Avoid drinking more than the recommended amount of alcohol in a week to keep health risks low.9 If you decide to drink, it's best to spread your drinks evenly throughout the week.

When you drink, be sure to consume a healthy meal before. Low-fat, low-salt snacks between drinks can also help reduce alcohol absorption. They also help keep your blood pressure down.

Make sure you have several drink-free days a week for optimal health.


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Alcohol and High Blood Pressure Medications

Heart medications, particularly blood pressure medications, tend to interact negatively with alcohol. Mixing alcohol and anti-hypertensive medication can increase the risk of developing hypertension or hypotension. Hypotension refers to dangerously low blood pressure.

Both hypertension and hypotension should be taken seriously. This is especially true for people who experience low blood pressure due to alcohol consumption.

Other Heart Risks of Heavy Alcohol Use

Several other cardiovascular risk factors increase with alcohol abuse.

These include:

  • Tachycardia: An increased heart rate that causes symptoms like anxiety and concentration issues
  • Cardiomyopathy: A condition that affects heart function and blood vessels.
  • Cardiac arrest: Commonly known as a heart attack
  • Heart failure: Occurs when the heart muscles cannot properly pump blood

Heavy alcohol use can also cause ischemic heart disease. This occurs when certain parts of the heart aren't properly supplied with blood due to blood vessel blockages. This condition is more likely to happen if you have a family history of cardiovascular disease or coronary heart disease.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is high blood pressure caused by alcohol consumption reversible?

Yes, to an extent. Short-term increases in blood pressure from binge drinking can reverse if someone stops drinking for a significant period.

Those with long-term blood pressure can reduce their blood pressure by switching heavy alcohol use to moderate use. 

It is essential to regularly take your antihypertensive medications, too.

How long does it take blood pressure to go down after stopping alcohol use?

For acute increases, blood pressure should normalize within hours of someone's last drink. Acute increases usually occur from consuming excessive alcohol in a single sitting.

Long-term hypertension caused by heavy drinking takes much longer to reduce. This is because the body goes through an intense adjustment period. 

Alcohol withdrawal can also cause high blood pressure, leading to a rapid rise before decreasing. Those who don't drink alcohol as heavily typically see their blood pressure normalize quicker after stopping alcohol use.

Which alcohol is good for high blood pressure?

There is no type of alcohol that is "good" for high blood pressure.

However, regular consumption of non-alcoholic red wine can significantly reduce blood pressure in as little as 1 month.10 

Can one glass of red wine a day affect blood pressure?

It might. One glass of wine per day typically won't affect blood pressure significantly.

However, there is no definite answer to this because research is still lacking.

Updated on February 2, 2023
10 sources cited
Updated on February 2, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. NIAAA. “Alcohol’s Effects on the Body.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
  2. NIAAA. “Harmful Interactions.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
  3. CDC. “ Alcohol and Substance Misuse.” Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
  4. MacMahon, S. “Alcohol Consumption and Hypertension.” Hypertension 9:111–121.
  5. High blood pressure (hypertension), Mayo Clinic, 2021.
  6. Santana, Nathália Miguel Teixeira et al. “Consumption of alcohol and blood pressure: Results of the ELSA-Brasil study.” PloS one vol.
  7. Klatsky, A L. “Moderate drinking and reduced risk of heart disease.” Alcohol research & health : the journal of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 1999.
  8. Dietary Guidelines for Alcohol, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2020.
  9. The Risks of Drinking Too Much, National Health Service (NHS), 2020.
  10. Chiva-Blanch, Gemma et al. “Dealcoholized red wine decreases systolic and diastolic blood pressure and increases plasma nitric oxide: short communication.” Circulation research, 2012.
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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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