Beer, wine, and mixed drinks are common ways to unwind from the effects of a busy life. Occasionally indulging at moderate levels can ease tension in a tasty, enjoyable way. Indulging beyond a certain point, though, can contribute to health issues, and one of the most serious is high blood pressure.
Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure is a chronic problem where the force inside your blood vessels becomes strong enough to cause health issues such as heart disease. There are few signs to warn you until high blood pressure is in its advanced stages.
The team at Alpha Internal Medicine in Fayetteville, Georgia, acts as your medical partner in blood pressure management. Only regular testing by high blood pressure specialists can confirm a hypertension diagnosis. Treatment usually starts with lifestyle modifications, and these may be enough to bring your numbers in line. Adjusting alcohol intake may be a simple change offering significant results.
The link between alcohol and high blood pressure
The most common alcohol-related health condition is high blood pressure. One reason for that is the effect on blood pressure arises from chronic heavy drinking and binge drinking episodes. More than three drinks at any time can temporarily raise your blood pressure. Regular binge drinkers can see a longer-lasting influence on blood pressure. This is also the case for regular heavy drinkers.
Alcohol has a caloric load that can contribute to weight gain, another condition that causes high blood pressure. Drinks that are high in carbohydrates and sugars can contribute to type 2 diabetes, which also carries a risk of increased hypertension.
Defining moderate drinking
A moderate drinker is a woman who has one drink a day or a man who has two drinks. The heavy drinking threshold is more than three daily drinks for a woman or four for a man. Binge drinking is four or more drinks in a two-hour period for a woman and five drinks for a man.
These amounts constitute one drink:
- 12 ounces of beer
- 5 ounces of wine
- 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits
There are variations in alcohol content, such as with fortified wines or craft beers that have higher alcohol levels than their regular counterparts.
The chemical effects of alcohol
Alcohol creates a series of changes in your body that affects blood pressure. These include:
- Increased renin levels: this hormone constricts blood vessels and reduces the amount of fluid released as urine
- Increased cortisol levels: a stress response hormone, cortisol also blocks the amount of fluid released from the body
- Reduced vasopressin levels: lower levels of this antidiuretic hormone can lead to dehydration
Constricted blood vessels and increased fluid levels both lead directly to higher blood pressure levels in your body.
Bringing your alcohol intake back to moderate levels or lower significantly lowers both systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels. Combined with a heart-friendly diet and increased activity and exercise, you may have the tools to recover a healthy blood pressure level without the need for medications that may carry additional side effects.
Contact Alpha Internal Medicine to arrange a blood pressure consultation to find out where your levels are and to formulate a hypertension management plan, if necessary. You can reach the office by phone or online to schedule your appointment today.