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Alcohol and High Blood Pressure- A potentially dangerous combination?

Do you enjoy wine, beer or other alcoholic beverages on a regular basis?  Do you drink a moderate amount of alcohol, or do you go over your limit?  Do you even know what the moderate amount is?  If you are not sure if you are exceeding a healthy alcohol limit, you could be putting yourself at risk of developing a number of dangerous health conditions such as high blood pressure.

How can alcohol affect blood pressure?  The answer to this question is still unknown, even though medical research has discovered that drinking alcohol excessively can cause blood pressure to rise.  That being said, it has also been found that regularly drinking moderate amounts of alcohol can actually help keep the body healthy and protect it from heart disease and stroke; conditions linked to high blood pressure.

Drinking in moderation
Before we get into how excessive drinking can lead to high blood pressure, first we’ll take a look at what is considered to be moderate drinking.  Drinking alcohol moderately is different for both men and women:

Men - 2 alcoholic drinks per day is considered sufficient for men up until the age of 65.  After 65, men should drink the moderate intake recommended for women.

Women - 1 alcoholic drink per day is considered sufficient for women.

A single drink is the equivalent of:
• 12 oz. of regular beer or lager (1 bottle or can)
• 5 oz. of wine (1 standard glass of wine)
• 1 oz. of spirits (1 shot of spirits)

If you are over exceeding the amount of alcohol that is considered sufficient for you on a regular basis, it is highly likely that your alcohol consumption is having a negative affect on your blood pressure and overall health.  In this case, it is imperative that you cut back.  By decreasing alcohol intake and drinking in moderation, a previous heavy drinker can actually lower their diastolic blood pressure by 1-2 points and their systolic blood pressure by 2-4 points.

People who drink alcohol excessively can raise their blood pressure to unhealthy levels.  Not only that, alcohol is also high in calories and can increase your weight.  Furthermore, if you are taking blood pressure medication, alcohol can increase the negative side effects of these meds.

On the other hand, if you are drinking moderately, the alcohol you ingest should not be having an affect on your blood pressure.  That being said, if you frequently indulge in binge drinking (drinking excessive amounts of alcohol in one sitting as is common on the weekend), drinking moderately on a regular basis can also increase your blood pressure.

Can people with high blood pressure still drink alcohol? 
Yes - The average person with high blood pressure and has no other complications can drinking alcohol as long as they stay within the recommended limits, even if they are on blood pressure medication.
No – Someone who has a damaged liver, is an alcoholic, has heart disease, or has already suffered a stroke, should not drink alcohol.

It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about whether or not moderate alcohol consumption is safe for you.  It’s also imperative that you have your blood pressure checked at least once a year by your doctor, at the local clinic, or any place that provides you the opportunity.  It is a simple, fast and painless procedure that can give you peace of mind. 

If you should discover you have high blood pressure, you can then take the right actions to help you avoid the serious complications associated with the condition.

For more information about the causes of and treatment for high blood pressure please Click Here.

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