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Alcohol and high blood pressure

A medical professional takes a man’s blood pressure.

Feb. 22, 2024—High blood pressure (also called hypertension) is a common health condition. According to the American Heart Association, more than 100 million people in the U.S. have it. You can have high blood pressure without knowing it because it usually has no symptoms. For this reason, it’s called the silent killer.

It's important to prevent high blood pressure if you can—and manage high blood pressure if you have it. Over time, high blood pressure harms your heart and arteries, and increases your risk for cardiovascular disease. It is preventable with a healthy lifestyle, even if it runs in your family.

And here's something else to keep in mind: Recent research suggests that drinking even a little alcohol regularly can cause your blood pressure numbers to go up as you get older.

Alcohol and your heart

In the U.S., a standard alcoholic drink is:

  • 12 ounces of beer.
  • 8 ounces of malt liquor.
  • 5 ounces of wine.
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.

Moderate drinking is defined as no more than one drink a day for women and no more than two drinks a day for men.

Excessive drinking means at least eight drinks per week for women and at least 15 drinks per week for men. It also includes binge drinking, which means four or more drinks for a woman and five or more drinks for a man during a single event.

Excessive alcohol use over a long period of time is linked to high blood pressure, as well as heart disease, stroke and a host of other serious medical problems, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, evidence suggests that drinking smaller amounts of alcohol also can have a negative effect on your cardiovascular health. A recent analysis of several studies of more than 19,000 adults in the U.S., Korea and Japan found a pattern over four to 12 years. People who had even one drink on a regular basis saw a continuous rise in their blood pressure. As their alcohol consumption increased, so did their blood pressure numbers.

Lower your risk

To help keep your blood pressure within a healthy range, don't drink to excess. Consider not drinking at all. If you're concerned about the amount of alcohol you drink, talk to your doctor.

Learn more about the different ways alcohol affects your body.


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