Alcohol may make people feel more relaxed, but it can also speed up the heart rate and elevate blood pressure. Alcohol and hypertension are closely linked: drinking too much and too often can make high blood pressure become a chronic issue. People who have a personal or family history of hypertension should maintain awareness of the relationship between alcohol and high blood pressure.
High blood pressure happens when the heartbeat causes blood to push against the walls of the arteries with high force. In addition to drinking, high blood pressure can be caused by genetics, a high-salt diet and a lack of exercise. Over time, if not addressed, high blood pressure can lead to other health problems such as heart disease. People who are worried about the effects of alcohol use and blood pressure should talk to a health care provider to get a blood pressure reading and learn more about their own personal risk of hypertension. People dealing with hypertension should also be aware that alcohol and blood pressure medications usually shouldn’t be mixed.
Can Alcohol Lower Blood Pressure?
There is not a great deal of evidence that alcohol and low blood pressure are linked for most people. Some research has shown that a single drink might have a positive effect on heart health. People who are light or moderate drinkers sometimes have lower rates of hypertension and heart attacks, which previously led many doctors to start recommending that people have one drink per day.
However, more recent research has shown that the link between light drinking and heart health is probably more complicated than it originally seemed. There are likely a lot of compounding factors — for example, people with certain healthy habits may be less likely to drink heavily and also may have lower blood pressure because of these other habits. Many doctors no longer recommend a drink a day and are aware that even moderate amounts of alcohol can negatively impact health.
Does Red Wine Lower Blood Pressure?
Unfortunately, the idea that red wine can lower blood pressure largely seems to be a myth. This idea was popular for some time, mainly due to the fact that red wine is known to contain polyphenols. Polyphenols are nutrients found in many foods including berries, nuts, and chocolate. The more polyphenols people eat, the less likely they are to have high blood pressure. This fact originally led experts to believe that red wine does lower blood pressure.
However, increasing numbers of recent studies have shown no link between red wine or other types of alcohol and blood pressure drop. Those who are looking to lower their blood pressure are better off stopping drinking altogether.