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Does Alcohol Raise Blood Pressure?

Alcohol is commonly used worldwide, as people consume the substance to relax and unwind. Moderate alcohol consumption does not do much to regularly affect your health, but heavy or binge drinking is linked to a variety of health issues. People who have alcohol use disorder may develop high blood pressure or hypertension, since alcohol consumption is one of the most common preventable causes of high blood pressure along with smoking and a high salt diet.

The rate and frequency of alcohol consumption can affect your blood pressure. Studies have shown that low doses of alcohol, such as 1 to 2 drinks, did not affect blood pressure in any way. However, binge drinking–which is defined as 5 or more drinks for men or 4 or more drinks for women in the span of 2 hours–can cause a temporary spike in blood pressure. In some cases, alcohol can also lower blood pressure in the short term, yet this effect is almost always temporary.

The blood pressure lowering effect of alcohol is due to a release of several substances, such as nitric oxide, that causes blood vessels to widen which will lower your blood pressure. These substances will exit the body very quickly, and around 13 hours after the last drink blood pressure can begin to rise again, especially if large amounts of alcohol were consumed.

When consuming small to moderate amounts of alcohol, the depressant effects will begin to appear and this includes alcohol lowering your blood pressure. Once the alcohol abuse reaches a certain point, complications including changes to your circulatory system can occur.
These complications can lead to adverse effects on the body such as high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, difficulty pumping blood through the body, stroke, heart attack, heart disease, and in extreme cases, heart failure.

The reason that alcohol raises blood pressure is because the alcohol affects several different parts of the body, such as the nervous system, kidneys, and blood vessels. Alcohol causes the brain and nervous system to release flight-or-fight hormones like adrenaline, which raises blood pressure and heart rate. Calcium levels also rise in response to drinking alcohol, causing blood vessels to narrow. In addition, vasopressin is a natural occurring chemical that increases while drinking, and this causes the body to retain more water.

The increase in blood pressure caused by heavy drinking is due to a combination of effects that alcohol consumption creates in the body. Besides the aforementioned effects, other changes that develop from heavy alcohol consumption include weight gain, increased cortisol, increased vasoconstrictor hormones, and changes in pressure receptors. These all work together to create high blood pressure.

If your drinking has progressed to the point where it is a problem, this can lead to withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to stop drinking. Alcohol withdrawal can lead to adverse effects on the body as well, so it’s important to go through alcohol detox at a treatment facility. Quitting alcohol alone can be dangerous, but having medical supervision will help ensure that the process goes safely and smoothly.

Arista Recovery can help you quit alcohol in a safe and comfortable environment that prevents withdrawal symptoms from becoming life-threatening. In addition, our staff can help you stop drinking to reverse or prevent further damage from occurring to your body. If alcohol use disorder has been taking over your life and negatively affecting your health and relationships, contact our treatment center today to say if alcohol rehab at Arista Recovery is right for you.

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