High Blood Pressure And Alcohol

What is High Blood Pressure?

Blood is essential to our mere existence; it’s needed for every organ in the body to function properly. Special vessels known as arteries carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body. To move the blood throughout the body, there needs to be a certain amount of pressure to do so. This is known as blood pressure.

Your blood pressure can fluctuate throughout the day, and it is normal for it to be raised when you’re moving about or doing physical activities. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is when your blood pressure is consistently high even whilst resting. Your heart is required to work much harder to keep up with the demand for increased blood flow because the resistance to blood flowing into the arteries is higher. Over time this can put a strain on the heart and cause complications such as a stroke or a heart attack. In addition, the stretchiness of the arteries begins to diminish and causes them to become narrow and stiff. This can lead to further complications like a buildup of plaque (fatty deposits) which eventually clogs up and damages the arteries leading to a stroke.

According to the British Heart Foundation, around 50% of heart attacks are associated with high blood pressure. Research also shows that hypertension is one of the most common risk factors for stroke and coronary heart disease.More than 1 billion people worldwide are affected by hypertension, and this is set to increase in future.2

Alcohol Increases Blood Pressure

Alcohol consumption is enjoyed by over 2 billion individuals worldwide, and despite it being socially accepted, it can have a detrimental impact on the heart if drunk excessively.3 Excessive alcohol consumption is said to increase blood pressure leading to hypertension. It has been proven that reducing your daily intake of alcohol by half can reduce your blood pressure and thus reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.4   Let’s say you consume 2 drinks per day, reducing it to 1 drink a day can help lower your blood pressure.4  

Recent studies have shown that having one glass of alcohol a day had little to no effect on blood pressure or heart rate as opposed to drinking excessive amounts.

So how does alcohol affect blood pressure? The actual cause and effect are unknown; however, there are possible mechanisms that have been suggested.

Alcohol is said to affect the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) by causing it to increase renin production.6  RAAS is composed of the enzyme renin and the hormones angiotensin II and aldosterone. This trio is responsible for elevating arterial blood pressure when decreased renal (kidney) blood pressure is detected. The RAAS system helps to regulate blood pressure by modifying blood volume and water reabsorption in the body. 

Alcohol Increases Blood Levels of Renin

Renin is part of the trio of RAAS mentioned earlier. Once low blood pressure is detected, the nervous system stimulates the kidneys to release renin. Renin then activates Angiotensin I, which is converted to Angiotensin II by an enzyme. Angiotensin II then causes vasoconstriction. So, what is Vasoconstriction? Imagine having a water hose flowing with water, and then you narrow the tube with your hands, which increases the pressure of the water coming out of the hose as the water begins to come out in force. In a nutshell, vasoconstriction increases blood pressure. When you drink excessive alcohol, it stimulates the increased production of renin.

Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone System is Upregulated by Alcohol

Alcohol-induced overproduction of renin increases the level of angiotensin I and II in your body, which then increases vasoconstriction, thus increasing blood pressure. The mechanism of the RAAS system is a bit like a domino effect where one action triggers another reaction, and so on. Drinking alcohol in moderation and within the recommended government guidelines should not have an immediate effect on your blood pressure. 

If You’re Worried About Your or Your Loved One’s Alcohol Intake

If you or someone you know is struggling as a result of alcohol misuse or addiction, don’t worry, there is plenty of help and support out there. You could seek advice and support from the organizations listed below: 


High blood pressure (Hypertension) is when your blood pressure levels remain consistently high even while at rest. Hypertension is known to be a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and heart attacks; therefore, it is vital to manage blood pressure levels. Although the exact association between alcohol consumption and high blood pressure is unknown, alcohol is said to affect several mechanisms in the body, in particular the RAAS system, which regulates blood pressure. Alcohol consumption will only ever cause a problem if it is frequently consumed in excess. Low amounts of alcohol occasionally should not see your blood pressure rocketing sky high; however, it is important to be mindful of your intake and frequency of intake.


  1. Banegas J, Lopez-Garcia E, Dallongeville J, Guallar E, Halcox J, Borghi C et al. Achievement of treatment goals for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in clinical practice across Europe: the EURIKA study. European Heart Journal. 2011;32(17):2143-2152.
  2. Roerecke M, Kaczorowski J, Tobe S, Gmel G, Hasan O, Rehm J. The effect of a reduction in alcohol consumption on blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Lancet Public Health. 2017;2(2):e108-e120.
  3. A global brief on hypertension : silent killer, global public health crisis: World Health Day 2013 [Internet]. Who.int. 2022 [cited 21 September 2022]. Available from: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/a-global-brief-on-hypertension-silent-killer-global-public-health-crisis-world-health-day-2013
  4. Tasnim S, Tang C, Musini V, Wright J. Effect of alcohol on blood pressure. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2020;2020(7). Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8130994/
  5. Global status report on alcohol and health 2018 [Internet]. Who.int. 2022 [cited 21 September 2022]. Available from: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789241565639
  6. Sayer G, Bhat G. The Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone System and Heart Failure. Cardiology Clinics. 2014;32(1):21-32.
  7. Husain K, Ansari R, Ferder L. Alcohol-induced hypertension: Mechanism and prevention. World Journal of Cardiology. 2014;6(5):245.

Kadi Ajilogba

Master of Science - MS, Adult Health Nurse/Nursing, Keele University, England

With over 10 years of experience working within the healthcare industry, in both acute and mental health settings, I pride myself in being able to cater to the patient's needs using a holistic approach. I am an advocate for promoting patient safety and wellbeing and I also embrace the notion of making every contact count with patients of different backgrounds and cultures.

I have worked in mental health settings which means that I am able to deal with patients presenting with challenging behaviours or those perhaps going through a crisis. I am trained in PMVA (Prevention Management of Violence and Aggression) as well as Team Teach which looks at teaching positive behaviour management in order to support young people going through a mental health crisis.

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