Alcohol and Blood Pressure

Alcohol has been consumed since ages and is popular across the globe. Even with such widespread consumption, researchers were not able to define direct relationship between alcohol and hypertension. There’s no doubt that high intake of alcohol results in rise of blood level but some researches have proved alcohol is responsible for lowering blood pressure provided it is consumed in moderate level. By moderate level we mean not more than daily one drink for women and two drinks for men’s. One drink is equivalent to 1.25 oz. of whiskey ( 40% alcohol or 80-proof spirits), 12 oz. beer, 5 oz. of wine, all of which containing around 13 gm. alcohol.

Research has shown that mean blood pressure of heavy alcohol drinkers was 1.6-10.9 mmHg higher than moderate or no alcoholic groups. The association between chronic high-dose alcohol intake and blood pressure has been shown in both genders, multiple racial and ethnic groups. In men, relationship between alcohol and average blood pressure is linear i.e. blood pressure rises with increasing alcohol intake. For women’s, the relationship is U-shaped. Initially, the women with on moderate alcohol consumption have lower blood pressure than teetolaters. Alcohol and blood pressure is inversely related until the consumption value of alcohol by women’s is 20mg/day. However if consumption level goes higher than 30g/day, the systolic blood pressure will be higher than those women’s who consume less alcohol.  Also black men consuming low-to-moderate amounts of alcohol have higher risk of hypertension compared to black women or Caucasians of either gender.

Alcohol and High Blood Pressure

The relationship between alcohol and high blood pressure is not clearly understood. Many theories have been put forward to explain the reason of increase in blood pressure by alcohol consumption.

It is observed that some patient abstain or diminish alcohol intake before visiting doctors. Thus in such cases, Observed blood pressure elevation may be due to sudden withdrawal of alcohol. This rise in blood pressure is due to central nervous system excitability and increase in adrenergic discharges. With increasing alcohol intake, the level epinephrine and norepinephrine rises, which play crucial role in maintaining blood pressure  On sudden withdrawal of alcohol, it leads to excessive stimulation in sympathetic nervous system activity. This can be suggested by the fact that level of epinephrine and norepinephrine were found to be higher in urinary excretion and plasma respectively on sudden withdrawal on alcohol.

Alcohol also affects renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system which play important role in regulating blood pressure. Linkola and co-workers carried out study, to determine effect of alcohol on renin, aldosterone and cortisol level in plasma. Seven healthy supine subjects were selected and were put on controlled sodium and potassium diet. After consuming alcohol, the plasma level of aldosterone was decreased initially in 6 subjects out of 7 but after 3 hours, aldosterone level suddenly started increasing. No changes in renin and cortisol were reported initially, after 3 hrs. the plasma level of cortisol started rising similarly as aldosterone. This observation suggests the stimulation of adrenocorticotrophic hormones by alcohol. The renin level started rising after 13-14 hrs. of alcohol intake. This might conclude that changes in renin activity occurs on chronic intake or sudden withdrawal of alcohol.
blood pressure and alcohol Alcohol also alters sodium-potassium-calcium-magnesium balance in fluid within and surrounding the cells. This causes constriction of blood vessels followed by increase in peripheral resistance and ultimately high blood pressure, which in turn also increases the chances of heart attack and stroke.

Alcohol is rich source of calories, thus problem of weight gain may also be associate with alcohol intake. Obesity might further lead to diabetes or any cardiovascular diseases.

Benefits of Alcohol in Blood Pressure

Studies show that while excessive alcohol intake leads to high blood pressure but if we limit down your alcohol to moderate or low level, it can really help you to maintain your blood pressure. This is because of depressive action of alcohol i.e. it promotes vasodilation and also helps in reducing inflammation in arteries. Along with moderate or low intake of alcohol it is very essential to maintain healthy lifestyle like exercising daily, eat more fruits, leafy vegetables, low fat cheese and olives. Stop unhealthy lifestyle like cigarette smoking, eating of fast food, sugar rich products, soft drinks etc.

The lowest incidence of hypertension is observed in France even though wine particularly red wine is consumed highest in France. Red wine has the capability to reduce down the arterial stiffness in patients with heart disease. This is due to presence of antioxidants termed as polyphenols and flavonoid. White wine has no such antioxidants because grape skin is peeled off at the starting stage fermentation. However such antioxidants are present in red grape juice, pomegranate juice, and green tea so it is not necessary to stick just on red wine.

It is also believed that red wine helps in preventing the risk of second heart attack for patients who already had one. Researchers have found that men who consume at least 2-4 glasses of wine daily were less likely to suffer from a second heart attack than men who dint drinks.

Alcohol is also associated with mild anticoagulant activity as it prevents platelets from adhering together .thus helps in preventing clot formation.

Summing it all up ..

While the type or class of drinks is not so important, as almost all drinks produce same kind of response. But the more important thing to focus is on quantity of alcohol you consume. Always keep in mind alcohol related problems. If you are suffering from alcohol-induced hypertension, stop alcohol immediately because medication does not affect alcohol related hypertension. Blood pressure can be lower down only when its intake stops.  As healthier you live, the Better you survive.