With as little as a few alcoholic beverages, you can put yourself at risk of hypertension or give yourself high blood pressure for a few days following alcohol consumption.
Your blood pressure reading is the result of two measurements. The first is the measurement of your blood pressure when your heart contracts (called systolic blood pressure).
The second is the measurement of your blood pressure when your heart relaxes (called diastolic blood pressure).
Even after isolated events of binge drinking, alcohol can raise both of these measurements resulting in high blood pressure.
Learn about other health conditions caused by alcohol use.
How Alcohol Affects Blood Pressure
Drinking alcohol can cause hypertension by affecting different chemicals, hormones, and mechanisms in the body that interact with your blood pressure.
Even alcohol withdrawal has been observed to cause high blood pressure in the initial onset of the symptoms.
One of the causes of high blood pressure that interacts with most others is that alcohol increases your heart rate.
This results in a higher systolic blood pressure reading. But there are other factors that contribute to hypertension.
Increases Hormone Blood Levels
Alcohol affects the central nervous system directly when you consume it. One of the results of this effect is the unbalanced release of hormones into the bloodstream.
Your body uses hormones to regulate itself and control responses to certain stimuli. When hormones are released as a result of the unnatural stimulus of alcohol, these unbalanced responses can result in hypertension.
For example, the body’s renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system disperses hormones in the bloodstream that regulate blood pressure.
One such hormone is renin, which causes your blood vessels to constrict. Alcohol use increases the production of renin, so when blood flow becomes more difficult in constricted vessels, it raises blood pressure.
Reduces Production Of Antidiuretic Hormones
One such hormone as discussed above is vasopressin. Vasopressin is a hormonal response to dehydration, called an antidiuretic. This means it holds on to water to prevent you from dehydrating.
However, alcohol suppresses the production of vasopressin, which starts a chain reaction. The body fails to hold onto water and becomes dehydrated which causes high blood pressure.
May Increase Cortisol Levels
Cortisol is the hormone that your body uses to regulate stress. It can dampen bodily functions not necessary to live in response to a fight-or-flight situation.
Studies have observed a connection between alcohol consumption and the increase of cortisol, which may be one reason people who are intoxicated tend toward aggression.
But it may also be one way that alcohol causes hypertension. However, it has also been observed that high cortisol levels are connected to heavy drinkers rather than moderate drinkers.
Disrupts The Body’s Regulation Of Blood Pressure
Your body regulates through mechanisms called baroreceptors. Baroreceptors report on blood vessel changes to the autonomic nervous system, (the part of your brain that controls the stuff you don’t have to think about).
However, when you have a number of alcoholic drinks, alcohol can dull the sensitivity of your baroreceptors, which means they’re not as aware of your blood flow as under normal circumstances.
By impacting your body’s ability to regulate your blood pressure, alcohol abuse puts you at risk of hypertension.
Increases Amount Of Calcium That Binds To Blood Vessels
Drinking a large amount of alcohol can result in hypertension through yet another source, and that is calcium.
Alcohol consumption can result in an increase in calcium production. This is a problem because calcium can bind to blood vessels, causing further constriction of blood flow and resulting in hypertension.
Does Alcohol Thin Your Blood?
Alcohol consumption can result in thinning your blood, because it reduces the ability of blood cells to join together or coagulate.
This can result in a slight decrease in the risk for stroke among those who have between one and two drinks per day, but it is not always the case. Sometimes, there is no effect at all.
However, heavy drinkers have a higher risk of stroke than non-drinkers.
Other Dangers Of Alcohol Addiction
In addition to affecting your blood pressure by creating hypertension or creating a stroke or heart health risk for heavy drinkers, there are many other health problems associated with alcohol addiction.
These problems can include weight gain and affect brain function or organ function to such an extent that it leads to debilitating disorders or permanent brain damage.
Alcohol-related brain damage can result in:
- memory loss
- inability to make new memories
- inability to learn
- loss of motor control
- difficulty walking
Over a long period of time, alcohol addiction can also result in damage to such internal organs as the liver, stomach, and pancreas.
In addition, it can result in an increased risk of different types of cancers including liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, and colorectal cancer.
Finally, heavy alcohol intake is associated with cardiovascular disease, sometimes resulting in a heart attack.
Treatment Programs For Alcohol Abuse
There are many different treatment programs that can help you or your loved one achieve sobriety.
These programs may include such treatment options as detox, evidence-based counseling, and medication-assisted treatment.
At Bedrock Recovery Center, we provide:
- inpatient alcohol programs
- outpatient programs
- detox support
- behavioral therapy
- support groups
- relapse prevention training
Find Treatment For Alcohol Addiction Today
Stopping alcohol abuse can have an immediate effect on lowering your blood pressure.
Blood pressure medications can mitigate the high blood pressure levels of chronic heavy drinkers, but only quitting can lower blood pressure levels induced by heavy alcohol use.
Call the Bedrock Recovery Center helpline today to learn more about our treatment center and the many alcohol treatment options we offer.