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.

What Is High Blood Pressure?

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. 

How To Tell if You Have High Blood 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.

What Causes High Blood Pressure?

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.

How Alcohol Affects 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.

Short-Term Effects of Alcohol on Blood Pressure

  • Temporary increase in blood pressure:  Drinking alcohol can cause a temporary rise in blood pressure, even in healthy individuals. This is usually short-term and may return to normal once the alcohol is metabolized.
  • Dehydration: Alcohol is a diuretic, which makes you urinate more. This can lead to dehydration, which can affect your blood pressure.
  • Stimulant effects: Alcohol can stimulate the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, raising blood pressure.
  • Salt retention: Dehydration from excessive alcohol consumption may interfere with kidney function, increasing salt retention in the body. This can cause a rise in blood pressure levels.
  • Interactions with medications: Alcohol can interfere with blood pressure medications, making them less effective or increasing their side effects, which may indirectly lead to elevated blood pressure.

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol on Blood Pressure

  • Chronic hypertension: Regular heavy drinking can lead to sustained increases in blood pressure, known as chronic hypertension. This can significantly increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and other health issues.
  • Heart disease:  Hypertension caused by long-term heavy drinking can lead to many heart diseases, like heart attacks or cardiac myopathies. These conditions further impact blood pressure.
  • Stroke: Chronic hypertension resulting from long-term alcohol abuse can increase the risk of stroke, as high blood pressure is one of the most significant risk factors for this condition.
  • Kidney damage: High blood pressure from long-term heavy drinking can cause damage to the kidneys, impairing their ability to regulate fluids and electrolytes in the body, which can, in turn, lead to further increases in blood pressure.
  • Alcohol dependence: Over time, regular heavy drinking can lead to alcohol dependence. Withdrawal symptoms from alcohol include increases in blood pressure.
  • Weight gain and obesity: Regular consumption of alcohol contributes to weight gain due to its high caloric content. Long-term weight gain can lead to obesity, a significant risk factor for high blood pressure.
  • Liver disease: Chronic alcohol consumption can lead to liver disease, which can disrupt the hormone system that regulates blood pressure.

Factors That Influence Alcohol’s Effect on Blood Pressure

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

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.

Drinking Patterns

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.

The Dire Consequences of High Blood Pressure

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:

1. Stroke

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.

2. Heart Attack

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.

Understanding the Physical Effects of Alcohol & Withdrawal

Alcohol Reduction for Blood Pressure

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.

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Editor – Theresa Valenzky
Theresa Valenzky graduated from the University of Akron with a Bachelor of Arts in News/Mass Media Communication and a certificate in psychology. She is passionate about providing genuine information to encourage and guide healing in all aspects of life. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Benjamin Caleb Williams, RN
Benjamin Caleb Williams is a board-certified Emergency Nurse with several years of clinical experience, including supervisory roles within the ICU and ER settings. Read more

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.

Luks, Andrew M. “Should travelers with hypertension adjus[…]g to high altitude?.” High altitude medicine & biology, 2009. Accessed August 3, 2021.

Colorado.gov. “Cardiovascular Disease Burden and Disparities in Colorado.” Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, November 2014. Accessed August 3, 2021.

Medical Disclaimer

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.