The link between alcohol and high blood pressure has been recognized for about a century.
News from Japan on alcohol and hypertension
Alcohol can be good ! Before you heave a sigh of relief and reach for that bottle of wine, hear what recent studies from Japan have to say. Their findings show that blood pressure increases automatically with alcohol consumption, starting even at the very lowest amounts, and that even at this level, there is a risk to health. When you consider that in a country like the United States, almost a quarter of population have high blood pressure, it is clear that alcohol could be a trigger for the damage that high blood pressure can do in terms of heart disease, heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure. The ONLY benefit of drinking alcohol is that it brings people together to share in the act:)
How alcohol interferes with your body
Alcohol seems to interfere with your bodily functions in many ways. Right from the start, it brings additional calories into your system, calories that can end up as folds of fat. The effect is multiplied by the fact that alcohol negatively affects your kidneys, and therefore indirectly forces your liver to suspend its fat conversion processes, leaving fat to build up in the body. If you already know that you have a blood pressure problem and you are being treated for it, alcohol and high blood pressure can interfere with the effectiveness of any medication that you’re taking.
The damage to your blood vessels
Not content with annoying your liver via your kidneys, alcohol also appears to disrupt the liver’s normal hormone functions, including those responsible for balancing blood pressure. And it gets worse. The demon Alcohol hinders the liver’s ability to filter out toxins from the blood, which is a double blow to your system as alcohol is also doing a similar thing to your kidneys. This leaves oxidizing agents free to circulate in your blood. These agents damage your blood vessels: it’s a similar effect to the skin sagging and wrinkling that these agents are also responsible for, where they destroy the natural elasticity of your body tissues. Liver congestion as your liver tries to cope with standing in for your kidneys, eliminating alcohol, processing fats and all the rest, also leads to stagnation in the blood flow through the liver and ‘back pressure’ to blood vessels connected to it.
A one way trip for bleeding?
Want more? Alcohol makes it more difficult for your body to maintain normal blood pressure after bleeding. Even minor bleeding normally triggers a response in your brain to get blood pressure sorted out by releasing the right chemicals into your bloodstream, but under the effect of alcohol, this mechanism suffers as well.
Alcohol and High Blood Pressure - Fainting
Watch out if you’re an alcohol drinker and if you decide to stand up after sitting down (and never mind squatting or knee bends). This is one occasion where your body actually needs to tighten blood vessels to even out the flow of blood again. But because alcohol damages the elasticity of the vessels and therefore their ability to constrict correctly, heavy drinkers may literally fall over when they stand up, even if they haven’t started their consumption for the day. This last case is one where, contrary to the rest of the discussion, alcohol is responsible for lowering blood pressure, but just when you don’t need it.
Alcohol and High Blood Pressure
Excessive consumption of alcohol will tend to push your blood pressure up. However, stopping all alcohol consumption may not be the solution, but it is highly recommended. Some studies do mention that drinking a low level of alcohol can be be good for preventing heart disease and heart attacks. BUT we do not recommend it. They sat that teetotalers don’t necessarily do any better in the life expectancy stakes, compared to those who practice moderate consumption (meaning one or two drinks a day). Somewhere between overdoing it and not drinking at all there seems to be a happy medium. This is according to the American Medical Association, researchers in Denmark and the Harvard School of Public Health. It is best to avoid alcohol as much as you can.
Alcohol and high blood pressure - Reducing alcohol intake
All in all, reducing your alcohol intake is the best solution. In that case, what’s the best solution? Abruptly ceasing all alcohol intake is probably not a good idea and can trigger withdrawal symstems over a period of time. Gradual reduction over a period of time or according to your doctor’s advice is better. Stop the binge drinking however - highly recommended. Low-alcohol drinks are also available to help with the overall gradual reduction.