Q:

How does alcohol raise my blood pressure?

A:

Quick Answer

According to the Harlem Health Promotion Center, alcohol raises blood pressure by interfering with proper blood flow. The problem is not alcohol consumption per se, but excess, as binge drinking causes blood vessels to constrict. Since the same volume of blood has to flow through this reduced space, it forces the heart to work harder, which contributes to elevated blood pressure.

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How does alcohol raise my blood pressure?
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Full Answer

The constriction of blood vessels is not the only way that excessive alcohol consumption contributes to the problem of high blood pressure. The HHPC explains that binge drinking stimulates the human fight-or-flight response. Under normal circumstances, this response is healthy, as it primes the body for action in the event of danger. However, if it is triggered too many times, as happens when alcohol is consumed in excessive amounts, the response begins to place pressure on the body. This eventually leads to hypertension.

Binge drinking can lead to elevated blood pressure indirectly. Because alcohol contains carbohydrates, excessive consumption can lead to an unhealthy increase in weight, which in turn contributes to high blood pressure. Binge drinking also interferes with the operation of blood pressure medication. Those who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure should either cut back on the number of drinks they consume or avoid alcohol all together, the HHPC advises. However, it is a far better idea to avoid binge drinking in the first place.

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