Alcohol is the most widely used narcotic throughout the world. It has been estimated that around 2 billion people are affected by abusing alcohol. It leads to lethal effects on the body with multiple disorders and one of the major effects is leading to acute and chronic rise in blood pressure. Which in turn results in stroke, heart attack, cardiomyopathy, dysrhythmias, kidney failure, liver failure and even death. (Puddey et al., 2006)
What is Blood Pressure?
The pressure exerted by blood on walls of the arteries is called blood pressure. The normal range is 120/80 mmHg. The former one indicates the systolic blood pressure while the latter one indicates the diastolic pressure.
● The systolic pressure is the one when the heart is pumping the blood and oxygen to be delivered all over the body i.e., the brain and peripheries.
● While the diastolic pressure is when the heart is in state of relaxation and filling up the blood that need to be distributed.
● An elevated blood pressure or stage 1 hypertension is in the range of 139/90 mmHg.
● Stage 2 hypertension is 150/100 mmHg.
● Anything above this range is hypertensive crisis. (Tasnim et al., 2020)
Causes of Blood Pressure?
The primary causes of higher blood pressure or hypertension is obesity, underlying medical conditions like diabetes, sedentary lifestyle, unbalanced and unhealthy diet, stress and a irregular sleep routine. However, in the US people are highly involved in substance abuse like drinking alcohol excessively which is reported to be responsible in raising blood pressure. (Chen et al., 2008)
How Alcohol Cause Blood Pressure?
The research has shown that alcohol causes dose dependent rise in hypertension.
According to a study it has been estimated that the almost 12-14gm (less than one glass of wine) of alcohol intake causes 1.26 mmHg rise in systolic blood pressure. While 48 gms of alcohol consumption causes 4.9 mmHg increase in systolic pressure.
So, the higher the intake of alcohol the greater will be rise in systolic blood pressure. (Measures when the heart is in contracting and pushing blood throughout the body). (Russell et al., 1991)
Mechanisms By Which Alcohol Increase the Blood Pressure
It has been studied that alcohol acts by different pathways to increase the blood pressure that are following:
1.Alcohol acts on the renin angiotensin pathway by increasing the levels of renin which in turn converts high levels of angiotensin 2 that is a strong vasoconstrictor. Aldosterone and vasopressin levels are raised that causes sodium and water retention and ultimately an increased blood pressure.
2.The alcohol consuming cause the release of non-adrenaline that causes stimulation of adrenergic receptors on heart and arteries thus elevating the blood pressure.
3.Alcohol consumption causes the release of histamines that disturbs the baroreflex receptors found in aorta.
4.Also, cortisol levels are raised by the administration of alcohol that also elevates the blood pressure. (Tasnim et al., 2020)
Pharmacokinetics of Alcohol
Alcohol should never be consumed in an empty stomach because it's water soluble and crosses the biological membranes very easily by passive diffusion in case the stomach is empty. It's metabolized by liver via an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase and cytochrome p450 into acetaldehyde which is highly reactive and produces extreme adverse effects on the body. (Chen et al., 2008)
Around 8 gms or 10 ml of alcohol constitutes one unit of alcohol. So, avoid drinking 6 units of alcohol under 6 hours which is termed as binge alcohol drinking. The 175 ml of alcohol glass contains 2.4 units that's extremely hazardous for your health. (Puddey et al., 2006)
Management/Alternatives to Alcohol
●Try skipping alcohol dose one by one. For instance, you take 3 glasses of wine per day so you cut initially into 2 glasses to avoid withdrawal symptoms. After successful dose skipping try some alcohol-free days.
●Substitute your alcohol with some other drinks or beverages.
●Purchase small bottles instead of pints.
●Take alcohol with a lower strength and percentage. (Russell et al., 1991)
●Try to get involved in some other healthy activities like walking or gym.
●Alcohol withdrawal patches and soft drinks. (Puddey et al., 2006)
Take regular visits to your doctor and consume your medications as prescribed according to the medical condition. The reduction in alcohol produces better and healthier outcomes. The alcohol withdrawal results in normalization of blood pressure and endothelial function.
1. Puddey, I. B., & Beilin, L. J. (2006). Alcohol is bad for blood pressure. Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology, 33(9), 847-852.
2. Tasnim, S., Tang, C., Musini, V. M., & Wright, J. M. (2020). Effect of alcohol on blood pressure. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (7).
3. Chen, L., Davey Smith, G., Harbord, R. M., & Lewis, S. J. (2008). Alcohol intake and blood pressure: a systematic review implementing a Mendelian randomization approach. PLoS medicine, 5(3), e52.
4. Russell, M., Cooper, M. L., Frone, M. R., & Welte, J. W. (1991). Alcohol drinking patterns and blood pressure. American journal of public health, 81(4), 452-457.
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