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Does alcohol raise blood pressure?

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Alcohol and blood pressureHigh blood pressure treatmentBlood pressure levelsWhen to see a doctorSummary
Drinking alcohol can raise your blood pressure and heart rate. Learn more about the short- and long-term effects of alcohol on your blood pressure.
Medically reviewed by Angela M. Bell, MD, FACP
Written by Suan Pineda
Updated on

Drinking alcohol can affect your blood pressure. Excessive drinking can increase your blood pressure and lead to other complications. 

About 2 billion people drink alcohol around the world, and 1.28 billion people have hypertension. 

Although some older studies have led many people to believe in the heart-healthy properties of wine, the American Heart Association (AHA) says this may be a myth and that other lifestyle factors, rather than alcohol contribute to heart health.

In fact, a 2023 review of studies found that drinking alcohol can raise your heart rate and blood pressure and increase your risk of hypertension. 

The main factors that determine how a person’s alcohol consumption affects their health are the quantity and frequency of their drinking.

Let’s look at the effects of alcohol — and the drinks and ingredients people may mix it with — on blood pressure, healthy blood pressure ranges, and treatment options for hypertension.

Effects of alcohol on blood pressure

Adult male and female sitting in a bar laughing with glasses of beer in hand but is there a link between blood pressure and alcohol
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The average consumption of alcohol is 33 g of alcohol — or around three drinks — per day, and the most frequently ingested drink is beer.

Alcohol has short-term and long-term effects on your blood pressure and overall health. 

Short-term effects

A 2020 study found that although alcohol lowers blood pressure in the first 6–12 hours after drinking it, blood pressure and heart rate increase within 24 hours of consuming alcohol.

Long-term effects

The same 2020 study found that drinking alcohol consistently increased the risk of having hypertension. 

In addition to hypertension, a 2023 research review found that long-term alcohol consumption in excessive amounts led to other complications, such as cardiovascular issues and organ damage. 

When considering the long-term effects of drinking alcohol on our overall health, we have to consider the different types of drinking.

There are three types of drinking, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism:

  • Moderate drinking: This means that males ingest two drinks or fewer a day, and females drink one or fewer a day.
  • Heavy drinking: For males, heavy or excessive drinking means more than four drinks a day or more than 14 drinks per week. For females, heavy drinking means more than three drinks a day or more than seven per week.
  • Binge drinking: For males, binge drinking is consuming five or more drinks in about 2 hours. For females, binge drinking means taking four or more drinks in about 2 hours.

Moderate drinking

Research has found that even moderate drinking can contribute to high blood pressure in both males and females. 

In fact, people who drink in moderation and those who drink heavily have a significantly higher risk of developing hypertension than people who don’t drink, according to a 2019 study.

And a 2018 study on binge drinking found that this type of drinking significantly increased blood pressure among young adult men ages 18–45 years. 

The effects of different types of alcohol

You may also wonder if different types of alcohol have distinct effects on your blood pressure. This would depend on the amount of alcohol and sugar a drink has. It also depends on the type of drinking.

For example, a standard drink in the United States has 0.6 ounces (oz) of pure alcohol. This amount of pure alcohol is found in different quantities and types of drinks, for example:

  • 12 oz of beer contains 5% alcohol
  • 5 oz of wine contains 12% alcohol
  • 1.5 oz of distilled spirits or liquor like gin, rum, vodka, and whiskey contains 40% alcohol 
  • 8 oz of malt liquor contains 7% alcohol

The effect of these drinks on your blood pressure also depends on the other ingredients the drink contains. For example, a Cuba libre, which contains rum and cola, may have a more significant effect on your blood pressure because of its alcohol content, along with the caffeine and sugar content from the cola. 

Alcohol and calories

Keep in mind that some alcohol is high in calories as well. This, in the long term, can lead to unwanted weight gain, which may lead to higher blood pressure. 

High blood pressure can lead to serious health conditions, such as:

  • stroke
  • peripheral arterial disease
  • aortic aneurysms
  • kidney disease
  • vascular dementia
  • heart disease
  • heart attacks
  • heart failure

High blood pressure treatments

If you have hypertension, you can manage your blood pressure with medication and lifestyle strategies.


Medications that help to treat high blood pressure include:

  • angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • alpha blockers
  • alpha-2 receptor agonists
  • angiotensin-2 receptor blockers
  • beta-blockers
  • calcium channel blockers
  • central agonists
  • diuretics
  • peripheral adrenergic inhibitors
  • vasodilators

Many people with hypertension may need to take a combination of these drugs. A doctor or healthcare professional will recommend the best medication for you.

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Lifestyle strategies

Some lifestyle strategies can help you keep your blood pressure levels at a moderate range. These include:

  • increasing your physical activity and exercise
  • eating a balanced diet that focuses on vegetables and fruits
  • reducing your intake of salt and trans fat
  • reducing your alcohol consumption
  • quitting smoking, if you smoke

You can learn more about lifestyle factors to manage hypertension here.

Also, some foods can help lower blood pressure, including:

  • beet juice
  • salmon and other oily fish
  • hibiscus and green tea
  • leafy greens
  • beans and lentils

Learn more about the foods that help lower blood pressure.

Blood pressure ranges 

According to the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association 2017 guidelines for the prevention and management of hypertension, blood pressure ranges are:

Low blood pressure90/60 mmHg
Regular120/80 mmHg
Elevated120–129/80 mmHg
High blood pressure130/80 mmHg or higher

When to see a doctor

If you or a loved one experiences symptoms of excessive alcohol drinking (or an alcohol overdose), be sure to call your nearest emergency service. Alcohol poisoning symptoms include:

  • confusion
  • vomiting
  • hypothermia
  • pale skin
  • fainting 
  • difficulty breathing

People with very high blood pressure can experience the following symptoms:

  • severe headaches
  • difficulty breathing
  • dizziness
  • chest pain
  • nausea and vomiting
  • changes in their vision 

Call your healthcare professional or the nearest emergency service if you experience these symptoms.

If you drink — whether it’s moderate, excessive, or binge drinking — consider talking with your healthcare professional about your risk of developing high blood pressure and other cardiovascular conditions.


Alcohol has short-term and long-term effects on your blood pressure. In general, alcohol can raise your blood pressure and your heart rate within 24 hours after having a drink.

Consistent and frequent consumption of alcohol significantly increases your risk of developing hypertension and other cardiovascular conditions.

Talk with a healthcare professional if you drink and are concerned about your risk of hypertension or if you have high blood pressure and want to learn how to manage your blood pressure levels. 

Download the free Optum Perks Discount Card to save up to 80% on some prescription medications.

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