Alcohol and blood pressure
Alcohol can have a serious long-term effect on blood pressure
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Drinking alcohol increases blood pressure and repeated drinking causes sustained high blood pressure.
Alcohol consumption is an entirely preventable cause of severe hypertension (the medical name for sustained high blood pressure) in both men and women.1 Untreated high blood pressure greatly increases your risk of stroke and heart attack.2
A normal heart pumps blood around the body easily, at a low pressure. Having high blood pressure means that your heart must pump harder, and the arteries have to carry blood that’s flowing under greater pressure. This puts a strain on your arteries and your heart, which in turn increases your risk of a heart attack, a stroke or of suffering from kidney disease.
You can't usually feel or notice high blood pressure. In fact, many people may not know they have it. This is because high blood pressure very rarely causes any obvious symptoms until a serious acute event such as a heart attack or stroke.
The best way of knowing if there’s a problem is to have your blood pressure measured. You can have this done at your GP surgery, some local pharmacies, at your NHS Health Check or you can buy a reliable blood pressure monitor from the pharmacist.
There isn’t always a clear explanation as to why someone’s blood pressure is high. However, there are several factors that can play a part in increasing the risks of developing hypertension, including:
To lower your blood pressure, you should:
The UK Chief Medical Officers' (CMO) low risk drinking guidelines advise that people should not regularly drink more than more than 14 units a week to keep health risks from alcohol low. If you do choose to drink, it is best to spread your drinks throughout the week.
Our free MyDrinkaware app can tell you if you're drinking too much. It can even help you cut down.
Swapping some of your usual alcoholic drinks for a tasty non-alcoholic option is an easy way to cut back. Or making a permanent switch to lower alcohol alternatives can be a sustainable approach to cutting down in the longer term, if you’re not ready to give up alcohol.
If you want to cut down, a great way is to have several drink-free days a week. Test out having a break for yourself and see what positive results you notice.
If you’re worried about your blood pressure, talk to a health professional at your GP surgery. Or if you’re looking for more information, Blood Pressure UK offers a range of advice on how to take control of, or prevent, high blood pressure. Call their information line on 020 7882 6218 or visit www.bloodpressureuk.org
High blood pressure increases the risk of heart problems, stroke, and kidney disease. More information on these issues is available from the following organisations:
Arming yourself with strategies and tips can help you or a loved one take small steps towards big results.
Last Reviewed: 27th October 2021
Next Review due: 27th October 2024