Hypertension & Alcohol

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Hypertension & Alcohol

Are you an alcohol drinker? Drinking raises your blood pressure, even leads to hypertension. Try quitting or at least limit alcohol consumption to protect yourself against blood pressure.

Alcohol and blood pressure

How is alcohol metabolized? The liver performs almost 90% of the alcohol metabolism by breaking down of alcohol to water and carbon dioxide. The remaining is excrete by the lungs, kidneys, and sweat glands.

All ethyl alcohol is broken down into acetaldehyde a poison similar to formaldehyde, which is then broken down to acetic acid (or acetyl) radicals.

Some people experience their blood pressure rises with alcohol consumption. Studies show excessive alcohol consumption can raise blood pressure, there are various theories explaining why it does so.  Research shows that too much of alcohol consumption may damage your brain, liver and cardiovascular system. However, other studies show drinking alcohol in moderation does not cause any blood pressure rise.

Does alcohol raise blood pressure?

A recent study in Japan shown an even modest amount of alcohol drinking can cause a blood pressure rise.

Dr. Noriyuki Nakanishi, at Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan, lead author of the study, said alcohol use is an important modifiable risk factor for high blood pressure.

The mechanism through which alcohol raises blood pressure remains elusive. Several possible mechanisms have proposed, they are:

  1. Central nervous system - There is increasing evidence that alcohol initiates central as well as peripheral reactions which in a synergistic manner have a hypertensive action.
  2. Sympathetic nervous system - Alcohol consumption increases sympathetic nervous system activation, which constricts blood vessels and raises blood pressure.
  3. Baroreceptors - Alcohol diminishes the baro (presso) reflex by interacting with receptors in the brain stem.
  4. Renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system - The serum levels of vasoactive substances such as renin-aldosterone have been reported to be affected by alcohol ingestion.
  5. Cortisol - Studies have reported a significant rise in plasma cortisol levels following alcohol consumption. Excesses of Cortisol associated with increases in blood pressure.
  6. Intracellular calcium and vascular reactivity - Alcohol consumption shows constriction of blood vessels due to shifts in the calcium ion binding of arterial causes increased sensitivity to endogenous vasoconstrictors.
  7. Endothelium and oxidative stress

a.    Alcohol stimulates and increases the release of endothelin 1, 2, and angiotensin II levels. Endothelin 1 and 2, as well as angiotensin II, are known to be potent vasoconstrictors of the blood vessels, thus raises blood pressure.

b.    Endothelium Angiotensin II stimulates superoxide production has demonstrated in rats made hypertensive with angiotensin II infusion.

c.    Alcohol ingestion raises the blood pressure by decreasing the vasodilators such as NO in the vascular endothelium either due to inhibition of endothelial nitric oxide synthase.

How much alcohol is safe for a hypertension patient?

Heavy drinkers who cut back their drinking can lower their systolic BP by 3 to 5 mm Hg and their diastolic BP by 1 to 2 mm Hg.

If you have hypertension, avoid alcohol or drink it in moderation. Two drinks per day for men (younger than age 65) or one drink per day for men (age 65 and older) and women of any age is considered as moderate drinking.

One alcohol drink is equal to:

  • 12 ounces (or 355 ml) of beer
  • 5 ounces (148 ml) of wine
  • 1.5 ounces (44 ml) of distilled spirits (80 proof)

Alcohol can interact with hypertension medications and may lower its effectiveness and increase its side effects.

What do you feel, when you stop drinking alcohol?

When you stop drinking, you may have some short-term effects such as craving for alcohol, irritability, uneasiness, anger, headaches, and difficulty concentrating.

These alcohol withdrawal effects are because your body start practiced to it. Alcohol is an addicting agent if you start experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms, be patient and stay in control.

Alcohol withdrawal effects indicate your body has started healing and getting used to being without alcohol. An alcohol withdrawal symptom is only temporary; stronger at the beginning and vanishes slowly.

6 Benefits of stop drinking

The first benefit of stop drinking is you feel better altogether. The other common benefits are:

  1. You feel healthier, happier, more motivated.
  2. You can be able to lose weight.
  3. You can sleep better, restful sleep and brisk daytime.
  4. You can have the appetite again.
  5. You can be able to think better, both figuratively and literally.
  6. Your blood pressure drops significantly.
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