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Updated on March 28, 2023
3 min read

How to Slow Your Heart Rate After Drinking Alcohol

Why Is My Heart Rate So High After Drinking?

Drinking alcohol can be accompanied by many side effects, including a high heart rate. This effect is due to your blood vessels dilating.

Your heart responds by pumping more blood to keep your body in homeostasis. But your heart has to beat faster to maintain blood circulation as your vessels expand.

That said, your heart rate can be high from drinking for several reasons.

  • Your blood vessels dilate
  • You’re feeling anxious
  • You’re experiencing an alcohol-induced “high”

How Alcohol Can Harm the Heart

Alcohol can take a toll on your cardiovascular system in several ways:3,5,7

  • Alcohol consumption is linked to high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High blood pressure from heavy alcohol consumption can strain the heart muscles
  • Ultimately, this can lead to cardiovascular disease (CVD)
  • Prolonged heavy use of alcohol increases your risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Alcohol consumption can increase your heart rate

It’s essential to be mindful of your alcohol consumption so that it doesn’t negatively affect your heart. Moderate alcohol consumption is safe, which means:1,4

  • Two drinks or less per day for men
  • No more than one drink per day for women

Some research suggests that alcohol can positively affect the heart when consumed in moderation. It may help your body maintain “good” cholesterol (HDL) levels. But too much is harmful.2

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Is a Fast Heart Rate Normal with a Hangover?

A hangover from drinking too much the night before can cause various symptoms. One of the potential symptoms you might experience is a fast heart rate.

You might also notice the following symptoms alongside a fast heart rate:6

  • Fatigue
  • Thirst
  • Headache
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Weakness
  • Lack of interest
  • Sweating
  • High blood pressure

Your high heart rate with a hangover may be due to anxiety, dehydration, high blood pressure, or other symptoms. A hangover is more common if you binge drink or drink too much alcohol than if you drink moderately. 

5 Ways to Slow Your Heart Rate After Drinking Alcohol

Here are five ways to slow your heart rate after alcohol consumption.

1. Stop Drinking Alcohol

Giving your body a chance to sober up can slow your heart rate. The more you drink, the worse it can get — but slowing down or stopping can also slow down your heart rate.

2. Hydrate

Alcohol dehydrates you, which can hurt your heart and have various health effects. So, drinking enough water is essential.

3. Practice Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises can help you calm down. Stress relief through breathwork is known to help slow your heart rate.

4. Do Other Calming Activities

Drinking alcohol often happens at parties, which can be overly stimulating. If you notice your heart rate increase, practice something calming.

Activities to slow your heart rate can include:

  • Taking a step outside to get fresh air
  • Going home to relax and unwind
  • Practicing self-care activities like reading or watching a movie

5. Eat Some Food

Getting some food in your system can help you feel better faster. While eating after you’ve already drank alcohol won’t necessarily sober you up from what you’ve already consumed, it will slow your body’s alcohol absorption.

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When to See a Doctor

You should seek medical attention if the following symptoms also accompany a high heart rate.8

  • Mental confusion
  • Unconsciousness or difficulty remaining conscious
  • Pale or flushed skin
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Slow breathing (i.e., less than eight breaths a minute)
  • Irregular breathing (i.e., 10 seconds or more between breaths)
  • Clammy skin
  • No gag reflex
  • Dangerously low body temperature

The above symptoms might indicate alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning can be deadly, so it’s important to call emergency medical help immediately.

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Summary

Experiencing a high heart rate during or after drinking is a typical side effect of alcohol consumption. While it may not be a significant cause for concern, severe spikes in heart rate are risky. 

If a fast heartbeat is accompanied by any of the other symptoms mentioned above, seek medical attention. A high heart rate after drinking can sometimes indicate alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning can cause other health risks and be fatal.

Updated on March 28, 2023
8 sources cited
Updated on March 28, 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. Alcohol and Heart Health: Separating Fact from Fiction.” Alcohol and Heart Health: Separating Fact from Fiction, Johns Hopkins Medicine.
  2. Alcohol in Moderation Can Be Good for the Heart.” News.
  3. Hampton, Tracy. “Alcohol May Not Benefit the Heart, Researchers Say.” Harvard Gazette, Harvard Gazette.
  4. Is It Time to Rethink How Much You Drink?” Harvard Health.
  5. Piano, Mariann R. “Alcohol's Effects on the Cardiovascular System.” Alcohol Research: Current Reviews, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  6. Ryan, JM., Howes, LG. “Relations between Alcohol Consumption, Heart Rate, and Heart Rate Variability in Men.” Heart (British Cardiac Society), U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  7. Solan, Matthew. “Alcohol and Heart Health.” Harvard Health.
  8. Understanding the Dangers of Alcohol Overdose.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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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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