Ok I know this has been talked about before but I'm still confused.
How and when does alcohol raise pressure? Alcohol seems to have a bad reputation for raising blood pressure, but then lately some doctors are actually prescribing small quantities to lower blood pressure.
Does it depend on the person? If you are stressed out and a little alcohol relaxes you, then is that when it is OK?
The mechanics of alcohol suggest a relaxing of the sytem, which logically should lower pressure. I once had an MD tell me that alcohol raises pressure during the elimination process; I guess if you have too much the body fights too hard and that raises blood pressure. But wouldn't this process be the same for everyone? Why do doctors now prescribe alcohol?
I'm asking because as I become increasingly frustrated with finding the right drug regimen, I'm trying to focus more on diet/lifestyle which means examining every thing I eat or drink.
My first reaction is that it sounds like a sick, twiseted versioin of the disclaimer on all BP meds: "Your doc has prescribed this because he feels the potential benefit to your health outweighs the chances of side effects blah blah blah...."
And we tend to find that statement rational, as people who actually have to take the damn things?
Like, contributing to alcoholism is an OK side effect?
Like, using alcohol to self-medicate is OK?
Love to see what substance-abuse treatment profressionals have to say on this one!
Funny thing, as far as I can recollect the only people who ever tell me a glass of wine will do me some good are------ alcoholics or children thereof! Yes, I know there are actually some beneficial substances in these products (I've seen the research too), but innit odd the only strong recommendations tend to come from imbibers???
cut-and-paste: From [url]http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/blood-pressure/AN00318[/url]
Excessive alcohol use can raise your blood pressure to an unhealthy level. Heavy drinkers who cut back to moderate drinking can lower their systolic blood pressure by two to four points and their diastolic pressure by one to two points.
If you have high blood pressure, avoid alcohol or drink it in moderation. Moderate drinking is two drinks a day if you're a man younger than age 65 or one drink a day if you're a woman or older than age 65. A drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1 ounce of 100-proof whiskey.
Keep in mind that alcoholic drinks are often high in calories and may contribute to unwanted weight gain. Also, alcohol can interfere with the effectiveness of some blood pressure medications and increase their side effects.
For every article you read about the benefits of alcohol consumption, another seems to warn you of its risks. You might find such conflicting information confusing and frustrating.
Though moderate alcohol use seems to have some health benefits, anything more than moderate drinking can negate any potential benefits. Moderate drinking is defined as two drinks a day if you're a male under 65, or one drink a day if you're a female or a male over 65.
So should you avoid alcohol? Or can you continue to enjoy your glass of wine with dinner? It's up to you and your doctor. Here are some points on alcohol consumption for you to consider.
Moderate alcohol consumption may provide some health benefits. It may:
Reduce your risk of developing heart disease, peripheral vascular disease and intermittent claudication
Reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack
Possibly reduce your risk of strokes, particularly ischemic strokes
Lower your risk of gallstones
Possibly reduce your risk of diabetes
Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to serious health problems, including:
Cancer of the pancreas, mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus and liver, as well as breast cancer
Pancreatitis, especially in people with high levels of triglycerides in their blood
Sudden death in people with cardiovascular disease
Heart muscle damage (alcoholic cardiomyopathy) leading to heart failure
Brain atrophy (shrinkage)
Cirrhosis of the liver
Fetal alcohol syndrome in an unborn child, including impaired growth and nervous system development
Injuries due to impaired motor skills
What counts as a drink?
A drink is defined as 12 ounces (oz.) of beer, 5 oz. of wine or 1.5 oz. of 80-proof distilled spirits. Again, keep in mind that people age 65 and older shouldn't drink more than one drink a day. With increasing age, adults break down alcohol more slowly, leading them to become intoxicated more quickly and increasing alcohol's damaging effects.
Who shouldn't drink alcohol?
People with certain health conditions shouldn't drink any alcohol, as even small amounts could cause problems. Don't drink alcohol if you have:
A history of a hemorrhagic stroke
Evidence of precancerous changes in the esophagus, larynx, pharynx or mouth
If you have a family history of alcoholism, be particularly cautious when it comes to drinking, as you are at higher risk of alcoholism. And if you're pregnant, avoid alcohol entirely because of the health risks for your unborn baby.
In addition, alcohol interacts with many common prescription and over-the-counter medications. Check with your doctor, if you take:
If you combine alcohol with aspirin, you face an increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding. And if you use alcohol and acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), you increase your risk of liver damage. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration requires all over-the-counter pain relievers and fever reducers to carry a warning label advising those who consume three or more drinks a day to consult with their doctors before using the drug.
What to make of all the evidence
Weigh the pros against the cons of moderate drinking and decide whether drinking is OK for you. Be sure to consult your doctor if you have questions or are unsure.
Above all, don't feel pressured to drink. Few medical experts, if any, advise nondrinkers to start drinking. But if you do drink and you're healthy, there's no need to stop as long as you drink responsibly and in moderation.
I guess I'm just more curious as to exactly how alcohol effects the body, mostly because of the contradictory effects. How and why does alcohol raise blood pressure?
I drink one or two drinks a week (weekends), well within the " moderate" guidelines, but if alcohol can be harmful, I guess I want to know how, because I would consider giving up the two drinks, even if the "guidelines" say it is safe to drink. I do enjoy it, so I won't give it up for nothing, just as I haven't given up chocolate, but keep it to a minimum for weight reasons. But if chocolate raised blood pressure, I pobably would never eat it.
I don't know why alcohol raises blood pressure but I can tell you first hand that long term heavy drinking definitely DOES cause hypertension. Cessation of drinking shows a marked drop in blood pressure but only after a rather long time.
For me it takes 90 days of teetotalling to see the large effect.
But it's REAL.
As far as "modest" drinking goes, I can't speak to that..."modest" drinking is outside my scope of comprehension.
I guess the most logical thing to do is to stop drinking my two (or three) drinks a week altogether. If there is no change, then I guess it doesn't make a difference. If the pressure increases or decreases, then I will also have my answer.
As a loooong time alcoholic (beer) I can attest to the adverse effect on BP. I was up to a case or more a day until I found a more demanding job about 3 months ago. At that point I went cold turkey with the assistance of some meds. prescribed by my doctor (Librium). After three months with no alcohol I was beginning to feel a bit better and my pressure was down do to weight loss I attribute to not drinking 24 cans of lite beer a day. Pressures of the new job led me to start drinking again about three weeks ago. Last Monday I thought I was gonna die. So now I'm alcohol free for 4 days, and still detoxing. I "think" when you drink it thins your blood and I know it acts in dehydrating you. Both those factors seem to lower your BP while drunk. But LOOKOUT when you sober up. It's like a rubber band effect and your BP spikes and (I at least feel like my head will blow off)
Brutus that makes a lot of sense. It also concurs with what that MD told me about the elimination effect or I guess what could be considered as mild withdrawal effect being responsible for raising BP. Interesting points to ponder, especially the dehydration effect since I am salt sensitive and can always use help with water volume reduction. Anyway, my experiment is on but I'm going to monitor very closely.