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Drinking more than three drinks in a single sitting will temporarily cause your blood pressure to rise, but extended binge drinking or regular alcohol consumption can cause medically serious increases in blood pressure that negatively affect your health.
Pressure is required for your blood to circulate properly throughout your body. A healthy heart coupled with healthy arteries will pump blood throughout your body at a normal blood pressure.
High blood pressure means your heart must work harder to pump blood throughout your body. This also strains your arteries, as they must carry the blood flowing through your body at greater pressure.
Unfortunately, high blood pressure (often called hypertension) usually has few symptoms, so it can be hard to diagnose until it’s too late. High blood pressure can cause blurred vision and a headache, but this only typically occurs when it is dangerously high. Hypertension is often called a “silent killer” due to its effects over time without causing symptoms.
Special blood pressure considerations may apply for those living in high altitudes, such as Colorado, where we’re located. Although there is no clear evidence of an increased risk of blood pressure complications at high altitudes, there is marked interindividual variability in blood pressure responses at altitudes. As a result, people with uncontrolled blood pressure or very labile hypertension should monitor their blood pressure upon ascent to high altitude.
According to a study by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 26% of adult Coloradans had high blood pressure in 2013, a significant rise from 21% in 2003.
High blood pressure often occurs without any discernible cause. There are some treatable factors that can cause high blood pressure. Frequent, heavy alcohol use is known to cause hypertension. Sleep apnea is often a commonly-missed cause of elevated blood pressure.
Drinking heavy amounts of alcohol over time will cause your blood pressure to rise.
When you consume alcohol above a level that your body can regularly process, it can cause your blood pressure to increase. For the duration of your drinking and some time after, your blood pressure will remain elevated. That’s why sustained heavy drinking can be dangerous for your blood pressure.
In a recent study by The Recovery Village, 31% of the 2,000 respondents reported high blood pressure as a result of their alcohol use.
Everyone’s blood pressure can respond differently to alcohol, even when alcohol use is the same. While alcohol still increases blood pressure for most people, how it increases their blood pressure and the intensity of this effect can vary based on certain criteria.
Alcohol metabolism isn’t the same for everyone. Females tend to metabolize alcohol more slowly than males, making them more susceptible to its effects on their blood pressure. As we age, our bodies also metabolize alcohol more slowly, making drinking more impactful on older people.
Because alcohol-related blood pressure changes tend to be due to the effect alcohol has while it is in your bloodstream, your drinking patterns will affect how alcohol impacts your blood pressure. If you only binge drink periodically, for example, you will have high spikes in your blood pressure with periods of relatively normal blood pressure in between. If you drink the same amount daily instead of all at once, your blood pressure will be consistently elevated, but to a lower degree than the spikes binge drinking causes.
Your genetics will affect how alcohol increases your blood pressure. Genetics can have many effects, and how your genes influence alcohol-related blood pressure changes is still not fully understood. Genetics are often the reason why two people who are doing the same thing see different results.
High blood pressure can cause a host of health issues. For starters, it can cause kidney damage and even lead to retinal damage. High blood pressure can also lead to consequences, including:
High blood pressure strains arteries and blood vessels throughout your entire body, including those in your brain. The continued stress could either cause the vessels to clog or weaken. If this happens, there’s a blockage of blood to the brain or bleeding into the brain, which results in a stroke.
Having high blood pressure will greatly increase your risk of heart attack. Since high blood pressure makes your heart work harder and increases the overall strain on your heart, you increase your risk of chest pains, breathlessness and even heart attack.
To safely lower your blood pressure to a healthy range, it’s important to decrease the total amount and frequency at which you consume alcohol. If you’re someone who drinks heavily, consider cutting back to more moderate drinking levels over a sustained period. Immediately stopping alcohol consumption can be incredibly dangerous if you’re a heavy drinker.
If you’re trying to treat alcoholism in yourself or a loved one, it’s always a good idea to seek out the support of an alcohol treatment center with experienced medical staff. This will help ease the transition and make your path to sobriety much more tolerable. If you or a loved one has decided to stop drinking, reach out to our team today.
Because alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous – and even kill you – make sure you have medical advice from your doctor or a rehab facility when you decide to stop drinking.
There are many misconceptions about alcoholism that make it sound like an alcoholic is an easy person to spot, however, many alcoholics function effectively and lead relatively normal lives.
Alcohol has both short and long-term risks, including addiction. The side effects of regular alcohol use can impact your mind, body, and social wellbeing.
In a recent study by The Recovery Village, 44% of respondents reported abusing alcohol in an attempt to ease uncomfortable feelings that stem from underlying anxiety.
An alcohol abuse problem can include binge drinking, having negative consequences such as hangovers with your drinking but continuing anyway, and drinking despite the desire to stop.
Puddey, Ian B, and Lawrence J Beilin. “Alcohol is bad for blood pressure.” Clinical and experimental pharmacology & physiology, 2006. Accessed July 22, 2021.
Husain, Kazim et al. “Alcohol-induced hypertension: Mechanism and prevention.” World journal of cardiology, 2014. Accessed July 22, 2021.
CDC. “High Blood Pressure Symptoms and Causes.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, May 18, 2021. Accessed July 22, 2021.
Colorado.gov. “Cardiovascular Disease Burden and Disparities in Colorado.” Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, November 2014. Accessed August 3, 2021.
The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.
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