High blood pressure and alcohol – a dangerous combination

High blood pressure and alcoholIf you have high blood pressure, every additional ounce of alcohol you drink could be harming your heart. Drinking alcohol with high blood pressure has been found to harm the lower left chamber of the heart, which is responsible for pumping blood to the rest of the body.

Lead researcher Dr. Leonardo Sechi said, “Because even moderate alcohol consumption increases occurrence of early functional cardiac changes in patients with [high blood pressure], reduction of use of alcoholic beverages might be beneficial for prevention of cardiac complications in these patients.”


How this damage occurs is still unclear, and additional research is required to uncover the exact mechanisms behind this association.
Nearly one-third of Americans have hypertension, which contributes to almost 350,000 deaths annually. For the study, researchers examined the effects of alcohol on 335 patients with high blood pressure who did not have any coexisting heart problems. Heart function in the participants was assessed using electrocardiograms and heart scans. Participants were also asked about their drinking habits.

The study subjects were then classified into one of the four groups based on their alcohol consumption: no alcohol, less than an ounce a day, 1.4 ounces, or over 1.4 ounces.

Those who consumed alcohol the most had thicker left ventricle walls, which can stiffen the chamber and make its function less efficient. Heart damage signs were seen in nearly half of the participants, which was linked with the amount of alcohol they consumed.

Those with greater heart damage were generally older, heavier, diabetic, with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and blood sugar.


Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, commented, “High blood pressure is a major risk factor for developing heart failure, which leads to over one million costly hospitalizations a year. These findings reinforce current guidelines that individuals with high blood pressure limit alcohol consumption.”

Also, read Bel Marra Health’s article on These 5 fixes can help you control your blood pressure


Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.