top of page

How might drinking alcohol affect blood pressure?

Drinking alcohol has long been linked to several harmful health effects, including elevated blood pressure.

When alcohol is drunk, it enters the bloodstream and has an impact on a number of bodily organs and systems.

One of the ways that alcohol affects the body is by increasing blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood. When blood pressure is consistently high, it can cause damage to the arteries and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Alcohol consumption can cause an immediate increase in blood pressure, known as an acute effect. This effect can last for several hours after alcohol consumption.

Over time, alcohol can also cause long-term effects on blood pressure, known as chronic effects. Chronic effects occur when alcohol is consumed regularly over an extended period. The more alcohol consumed, the greater the risk of chronic effects on blood pressure.

Although the precise mechanism by which alcohol raises blood pressure is not fully understood, researchers have found several potential explanations.

One theory is that alcohol activates the sympathetic nervous system responsible for the "fight or flight" response. This response causes the heart to beat faster and the blood vessels to constrict, which can increase blood pressure. Another theory is that alcohol causes the release of hormones that affect blood pressure, such as angiotensin II.

How much alcohol is safe to drink?

Studies have shown that even moderate alcohol consumption can increase blood pressure.

Moderate alcohol consumption, the amount safe to drink is defined as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.

One drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.

However, the effects of alcohol on blood pressure can vary depending on factors including age, sex, weight, and overall health.

Individuals who already have high blood pressure or are at risk for developing high blood pressure should be particularly cautious when it comes to alcohol consumption.

For these individuals, even moderate alcohol consumption can have negative health consequences. People with high blood pressure who consume alcohol regularly may find that their blood pressure medication is less effective, which can increase their risk of heart disease and stroke.

It is important to note that not all types of alcohol have the same effect on blood pressure.

Red wine has been found to have some potential health benefits, including the potential to lower blood pressure. However, these benefits are likely only seen when red wine is drunk in moderation. Excessive consumption of any class of alcohol can increase blood pressure and cause other adverse health consequences.

In addition to increasing blood pressure, alcohol consumption can lead to other opposing health consequences that can further increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Keep in mind that alcohol contains calories and may contribute to unwanted weight gain-a risk factor for high blood pressure. Also, alcohol can interact with certain blood pressure medications, affecting the level of medicines in your body or increasing side effects.

Alcohol consumption can also cause liver damage and increase the risk of certain types of cancer. The negative health consequences of alcohol consumption on blood pressure and overall health highlight the importance of moderation and responsible drinking.

It's important to discuss your alcohol use with your doctor with any other risk factors that could lead to high blood pressure or other health issues if you are worried about your blood pressure or general health.


The consumption of alcohol can have a significant impact on blood pressure. Even moderate alcohol consumption can increase blood pressure and contribute to the development of high blood pressure, which is a leading cause of heart disease and other severe medical conditions. People who have a history of high blood pressure or other related health issues should discuss their drinking habits and potential effects on their overall health with their healthcare provider. Making wise decisions about alcohol intake can ultimately improve general health and wellness.

bottom of page