Alcohol Consumption and Hypertension

In This Article

Abstract & Introduction

Many observational studies have shown a relationship between three or more alcoholic drinks daily and hypertension. Reduction in alcohol intake is associated with lowering of blood pressure in randomized clinical trials: each drink per day reduction in intake lowers systolic and diastolic blood pressure by approximately 1 mm Hg. Although regular alcohol consumption seems to reduce the incidence of atherothrombotic cardiovascular events, excessive alcohol intake increases the risk of many medical and psychosocial problems. For persons with hypertension who drink excessively, average maximum alcohol intake of one drink per day in women and two drinks per day in men is a reasonable goal, if drinking is not otherwise contraindicated.

Regular alcohol consumption can produce positive psychosocial effects and some beneficial effects on health, especially reduced atherothrombotic events and death. However, excessive alcohol intake results in many serious adverse psychosocial and health consequences. One of the harmful effects of excess alcohol intake is its association with hypertension.

As early as 1915, the French physician Lian [1] reported a relationship between alcohol consumption and elevated blood pressure: sailors who drank several liters of wine daily were more likely to have hypertension, and blood pressure (BP) increased with increasing intake. Most of the studies on the relationship between alcohol intake and blood pressure, however, have been reported in the past several decades.

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