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Updated on July 6, 2023
4 min read

What Are the Effects of Alcohol on Blood Pressure?

Drinking too many alcoholic drinks in one sitting can cause an immediate, short-term increase in blood pressure. On the other hand, frequent long-term drinking can cause lasting elevated blood pressure.

Drinking alcohol causes the blood vessels to narrow, which causes hypertension, or a rise in blood pressure. This can lead to serious issues and increases the risk of having:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Reduced blood flow
  • Cardiovascular disease (heart disease)
  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Alcohol-induced vascular dementia
  • Kidney disease

High blood pressure (hypertension) is the most common health problem associated with alcohol use. Stage 1 hypertension is classified with a systolic blood pressure reading of 130-139 mm Hg and a diastolic blood pressure reading of 80-89 mm Hg. Many people, including moderate drinkers, suffer from hypertension without realizing it.

How Does Alcohol Raise Blood Pressure?

Alcohol causes blood vessels to constrict and narrow. When blood vessels narrow, the heart must work harder and exert more force to move blood through the body. This results in higher blood pressure. 

It's believed that drinking alcohol raises blood pressure by decreasing vasodilators such as nitric oxide (NO) in the vascular system. This results in the inability to dilate and widen blood vessels. This could be due to inhibiting nitric oxide synthase or a purely inflammatory response. But it is currently uncertain regarding the exact method of limiting vasodilation.  

What is certain is that alcohol consumption is a leading risk factor for hypertension. Regular drinking, even as little as one alcoholic beverage per day, can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure. This is especially true for people 35 and older. 


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How Long Does Alcohol Affect Your Blood Pressure?

Alcohol has an immediate effect on blood pressure. Even a single alcoholic drink has been shown to cause an acute increase in blood pressure, though this was also shown to subside after about 2 hours. 

In the medium-term, alcohol use over the course of several days can lead to a more sustained increase in blood pressure. This also subsides over time, but over a period of days rather than a couple of hours. 

In people suffering from alcohol use disorder (AUD), hypertension is prevalent. However, this condition generally subsides after alcohol withdrawal and recovery. Overall, the consensus is that alcohol typically exerts only a short-term, impermanent effect on blood pressure.

Which Alcohol is Good for Blood Pressure?

There is a link between red wine and good heart health. This link, however, can be the result of other co-occurring lifestyle factors. The key factor regarding red wine is drinking it in moderation.

You are less likely to consume red wine in excess when you eat food with it. The same is true when you maintain a balanced diet. Drinking one glass of wine several times per week does less damage to your heart than drinking multiple glasses in one sitting. 

There is no evidence showing that alcohol can be beneficial to blood pressure, aside from red wine. Alcohol has been shown to increase blood pressure. This can lead to heart problems and other long-term health concerns. 


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Is High Blood Pressure Due to Alcohol Use Reversible?

Fortunately, high blood pressure due to alcohol use is largely reversible. Several studies have shown the acute effects of increased blood pressure from a single drink subside within a couple of hours.

Medium-term impacts are more pronounced. This is because it takes more than a few hours to bring baseline blood pressure down to pre-alcohol levels. However, this still subsides within a matter of days or weeks. 

Long-term addiction is the most important factor in determining if alcohol-related hypertension is reversible. Although your blood pressure may return to normal or average levels, any damage to your heart and body due to elevated blood pressure is irreversible.


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Other Factors That Affect Blood Pressure Levels

In addition to alcohol use, several other factors affect blood pressure levels. When combined with even moderate drinking, these factors can lead to increased blood pressure.

Factors that affect blood pressure levels include:

  • Weight gain
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Dietary deficiencies
  • Elevated stress levels
  • Family history of hypertension
  • Medications or other regimens that affect the heart

Preventing High Blood Pressure

The most important step in preventing high blood pressure is reducing the amount of alcohol you drink. It may be better to stop drinking alcohol. This is because even consuming one drink daily can significantly increase your blood pressure.

There are several additional things you can do to prevent high blood pressure or help lower blood pressure. These include:

  • Losing weight
  • Exercising
  • Maintaining a healthier diet
  • Reducing sodium intake
  • Quitting smoking
  • Reducing caffeine intake
  • Reducing stress levels
  • Taking prescribed blood pressure medications if needed
Updated on July 6, 2023
4 sources cited
Updated on July 6, 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. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcohol’s Effects on the Body. NIAAA.

  2. Husain, Kazim et al. Alcohol-induced hypertension: Mechanism and prevention. World journal of cardiology. 2014. Vol. 6.5, 245-52. doi:10.4330/wjc.v6.i5.245,

  3. Puddey IB, Beilin LJ. Alcohol is bad for blood pressure. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2006. Sep;33:847-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1681.2006.04452.x. PMID: 16922819.,

  4. Ravi Maheswaran, Jaswinder Singh Gill, Paul Davies, and David Gareth Beevers. High Blood Pressure Due to Alcohol: A Rapidly Reversible Effect. Hypertension. 1991. Vol 17, No 6, Part 1.

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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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