Any alcohol consumption has effects on your body, some more serious than others. Three or more drinks at once will raise your blood pressure, but only temporarily and not at an alarming level. However, serious problems can surface from regularly binge-drinking.
With moderation and responsible practices, alcohol consumption is relatively safe. But not everyone knows when to stop. Increased blood pressure caused by excessive drinking can lead to hypertension, a potentially dangerous condition.
Alcohol’s Effect on Blood Pressure
A study by the American Heart Association concluded that alcohol consumption can raise your blood pressure for a few days, but this consequence naturally fades with time. For example, let’s say your normal blood pressure is 115/75. Too many drinks can increase those numbers to the unsafe zone of 140/90. If you keep drinking, those numbers stay dangerously high and your body doesn’t get a chance to return to normal.
Pro Tip: Don’t be fooled by the largely unsupported claim that red wine is good for your heart. Alcohol in any form will contribute to high blood pressure.
Risks of Hypertension
A constantly high blood pressure reading is just as dangerous to your body as high-pressure readings are to any industrial machines. Your heart begins to strain, putting you at higher risk for a heart attack. Your blood vessels weaken and can easily burst–remember, a burst blood vessel in the brain leads to a stroke. The risks of hypertension far outweigh any benefits you can get from drinking.
Reduce Your Risk by Limiting Alcohol Consumption
Blood pressure medicine can only do so much. If your hypertension is a direct result of heavy drinking, the only guaranteed method for improving is reducing how much you drink. You may have to quit drinking altogether if your blood pressure presents an immediate risk.
Before making any major changes to your habits, talk with your doctor. Abruptly cutting out alcohol altogether may cause your blood pressure to plummet and present an entirely different set of risks. Work with your doctor to slowly wean your body off the alcohol and bring your blood pressure back into a healthy range.
Everything in Moderation
For a healthy adult, one reasonably sized drink per day presents almost zero health risks. But we should always be careful to treat alcohol the same way we treat a lit candle: nice on occasion, but keep it supervised and have a backup plan if something goes wrong. Your long-term health is far more important than a glass of wine.
Want to learn more about blood pressure and alcohol moderation? Connect with us to talk with doctors about your risk for hypertension.