Researchers believe that high blood pressure caused by recent alcohol consumption is reversible if the person stops consuming alcohol. However, more research is still needed on reversing high blood pressure caused by prolonged drinking.
High blood pressure (BP) is when someone’s blood is pulsing through their arteries at a higher than normal pressure. For most adults, healthy blood pressure is 120/80mm Hg.
How Alcohol Affects High Blood Pressure
When someone consumes alcohol, it causes a rapid rise in blood pressure that typically resolves in two hours or less. In the past, it was thought that moderate drinking was beneficial and could lower blood pressure.
However, new research finds that both moderate and heavy drinking can cause spikes in blood pressure and increase the risk of more serious medical conditions over time. A 2019 study on 17,000 U.S. adults shows that moderate alcohol consumption—seven to 13 drinks per week—substantially raises the risk of developing high blood pressure.
How Much Alcohol Causes High Blood Pressure?
To prevent high blood pressure and its resulting issues, the American Heart Association recommends limiting alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks per day for men and no more than one drink per day for women.
Moderate drinking is most commonly defined as:
- two drinks a day for men younger than 65
- one drink for men older than 65
- one drink for women of any age
A drink is considered to be:
- 12 ounce of beer
- 5 ounce of wine
- 1.5 ounce of distilled spirits
Drinking these amounts will cause a temporary increase in blood pressure, and consuming more than the recommended amounts can cause a significant rise in blood pressure.
It should also be noted that alcohol is full of empty calories that provide no real nutritional value and may contribute to unwanted weight gain–another risk factor for high blood pressure. Alcohol can also interrupt some blood pressure medications’ effectiveness, so it is always best to consult your doctor before drinking while taking blood pressure medication.
Possible Causes of High Blood Pressure
Many things can contribute to high blood pressure, including consuming alcohol. Other possible causes of high blood pressure can include:
- family history/genetic predisposition for high blood pressure
- being 60 years or older
- consuming too much salt
- being overweight or obese
- not exercising enough
- not eating enough potassium
- excess stress
- chronic conditions such as diabetes
Because there are so many factors that can contribute to high blood pressure, 95 percent of the time, it is impossible to tell the direct cause of the condition. In the United States, roughly 75 million adults have been diagnosed with high blood pressure. Of those 75 million cases,
16 percent are attributed to alcohol consumption.
5 Phases of Blood Pressure Issues in Alcoholics
Phase 1 – Alcohol Consumption
This initial phase involves increased blood pressure from consuming alcohol. This effect is independent of age, sex, race, smoking, and caffeine consumption and depends on the amount of alcohol ingested. At this point, serious lifestyle chances are recommended to fix the problem.
Phase 2 – Stopping Cold Turkey
Individuals experience a drop in blood pressure after they cease consuming more alcohol. During a treatment program, it is essential to monitor the individual’s BP to know when to discontinue blood pressure medications and avoid a hypotensive episode, where the person’s blood pressure drops to dangerously low levels.
Phase 3 – Resuming Alcohol Consumption
When someone resumes drinking and their BP spikes once more. This requires the use of medications to help lower it, and the toxic effects of alcohol begin to show via liver disease. During this phase, the liver’s fatty infiltration develops in 90 percent of individuals who consume more than 60 grams of alcohol a day.
Phase 4 – Dependency
At this point, individuals are now dependent on alcohol. They cannot stop drinking without experiencing withdrawal symptoms. There is a high risk of liver damage at this stage. About 30 percent of the people who developed fatty liver syndrome will worsen into permanent damage called cirrhosis.
Phase 5 – Liver Disease
This phase occurs when someone experiences end-stage liver disease onset when their BP is unusually high. While it is possible to reverse the damage done up to this point, it is not likely without severe lifestyle changes.
Quitting alcohol can be difficult once you’ve become dependent on it. Individuals who are tried but have not been able to stop on their own should consider a formal treatment program to help them achieve this goal.
Health Risks of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can lead to serious health issues if left unchecked. This is why it is vital to have regular blood pressure readings taken. Some of the health risks caused by high blood pressure can include:
- chronic kidney disease
- eye damage
- heart attack
- heart failure
- peripheral artery disease
- vascular dementia
When someone is experiencing high blood pressure due to alcohol consumption, they will also be at risk for alcohol-related health issues such as liver and brain damage.
Treating Alcohol-Related Hypertension
There are many ways to approach treating hypertension. However, the most effective way to treat alcohol-related hypertension is to quit drinking. Research shows that abstinence from all forms of alcohol is the best way to reverse any bodily harm caused by excess alcohol consumption, including high blood pressure.
This lifestyle change is not always easy to do alone. Individuals who need help quitting should contact Elevate Addiction Services. We provide holistic addiction treatment that can address your specific needs for stopping alcohol abuse.
Changing habits can be hard, but you do not have to do it alone. Our cutting edge treatment program includes fun activities such as CrossFit classes and personalized nutrition planning. We will help you overcome your substance abuse and learn to live a more meaningful life.
- How Alcohol Abuse Affects Bones
- 5 Reasons Alcohol Abusers Have Trouble with Love
- About Alcohol Addiction
- ScienceDaily – Moderate alcohol consumption linked with high blood pressure
- Wiley Online Library – Five Phases of Blood Pressure in Alcoholics
- American Heart Association – Limiting Alcohol to Manage High Blood Pressure
- Mayo Clinic – Alcohol: Does it affect blood pressure?
- MedlinePlus – How to Prevent High Blood Pressure
- CDC – About High Blood Pressure
- AHA Journals – High Blood Pressure Due to Alcohol. A rapidly Reversible Effect