It’s common knowledge that heavy drinking can have long-lasting and detrimental effects on your liver, kidneys, and brain. However, many alcoholics fail to realize the detrimental relationship between alcohol and high blood pressure that puts their entire body at risk – not just a few organs. Can alcohol cause high blood pressure? Yes. Although scientists are still exploring the exact cause of the correlation, there is no question that the two are related.
Why High Blood Pressure is Dangerous
High blood pressure or hypertension, is a health condition where the force against artery walls is higher than the normal – 130/80 mmHg to be precise. The higher your blood pressure levels, the harder your heart has to work to pump blood throughout your body. This leads to an increased risk of cardiovascular issues such as stroke, heart attack, and heart disease – the highest cause of death in the United States. High blood pressure can also be harmful to the arteries themselves, due to the excess force damaging the tissue and causing tiny tears.
High blood pressure kills as many as half a million Americans each year, but that isn’t the scariest part. What makes high blood pressure so dangerous is that it is a silent killer. Until something drastic happens there are rarely any obvious symptoms. Nearly half of the U.S population has high blood pressure and the majority of them don’t have a clue. As can be easily imagined, high blood pressure is particularly dangerous to alcoholics for several reasons.
Why Does Alcohol Increase Blood Pressure?
There are several direct and indirect factors at play in the relationship between alcohol and hypertension. Many of the ways that alcohol affects the body set the stage for high blood pressure to occur – but the trouble doesn’t end there. Several symptoms of alcohol and high blood pressure overlap, exacerbating internal organ damage in the eyes and kidneys and deepening the amount of cardiovascular stress. Binge drinking was shown to have a direct correlation with levels of bad cholesterol (LDL). To put it simply, alcohol causes the arteries to narrow due to the build-up of plaque similar to fatty foods.
Everyone knows that alcohol is pure sugar and carbs, a caloric bomb that can sneakily add on the pounds. Alcohol has another weight-gaining culprit at the cellular level. Excessive alcohol consumption triggers the cells associated with inflammation, which has a strong influence on weight gain, particularly those hard to lose pounds. This is a natural progression into another proponent of developing hypertension, obesity is a well-known aggravator of high blood pressure. When compounded with the plaque-building nature of heavy alcohol consumptions, can wreak havoc on an already overworked cardiovascular system. For this reason, it is impossible to determine a singular reason why alcohol affects blood pressure.
Alcohol Withdrawal & High Blood Pressure
Because alcohol and high blood pressure are such a dangerous combination, scientists recommend complete alcohol abstinence. Many alcoholics in detox are disappointed to learn that becoming sober doesn’t automatically fix alcohol-related blood pressure problems. In fact, those who quit drinking cold turkey often find that it causes their blood pressure to spike. These effects are temporary, however, so it would be incorrect to say that alcohol withdrawal is a cause of high blood pressure.
What causes high blood pressure during alcohol withdrawal is similar to that which causes withdrawal symptoms in the first place: The heart, brain, and central nervous system have become accustomed to working extra hard to compensate for impaired bodily functions. Suddenly, alcohol is no longer in the system and your heart is still firing on all cylinders.
Is High Blood Pressure Due to Alcohol Use Reversible?
Alcohol can have many lingering effects on the brain and central nervous system. Fortunately, high blood pressure caused by alcohol is one of the few effects that are almost entirely reversible. In a study that monitored the blood pressure of detoxing alcoholics, 92% of the participants saw their blood pressure decrease by the third day of withdrawal.
How to Manage Your Drinking and Lower Your Blood Pressure
Blood pressure and alcohol consumption can typically be managed by exercising moderation, although this can be much easier said than done. For those with a physical alcohol dependency, cutting down on drinking could trigger a number of other unpleasant side effects. Still, knowing that alcohol causes high blood pressure, and the potential health risks of which, make the short-term discomfort well worth it.
Level Up Lake Worth can not only assist with every stage of alcohol detox, including withdrawal but can provide additional insight into the state of your blood pressure and addressing any potential risks. Contact us today to take a proactive step towards improving your heart health and overall quality of life.