Hypertension is defined as blood pressure higher than 140 over 90 mm Hg. The first figure is the Systolic Pressure (120) which is measured as our heart contracts and pushes blood through the arteries and the second one is the Diastolic Pressure (80), which is measured when the heart relaxes between beats to refill the blood. A diagnosis of hypertension can be made when one or both readings are high. When your blood moves through your vessels with too much force, you have high blood pressure.
A new research study published in the journal Hypertension analysed the impact of alcohol on blood pressure. The study looked at data from seven studies in the US, Korea and Japan that included a total of 19,548 adults, aged 20 to early 70s.
None of the participants had high blood pressure prior to the study. The study followed up with participants for five years. Compared to non-drinkers, both systolic and diastolic blood pressure rose more in people who drank. In people who drank an average of 12 grams of alcohol per day (12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine or a 1.5 ounce shot of distilled spirits contain about 14 grams of alcohol in the US) systolic blood pressure rose 1.25 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure rose 1.14 mmHg over the study period. In people who drank an average of 48 grams of alcohol per day, systolic blood pressure rose 4.9 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure rose 3.1 mmHg.
While the link between alcohol and systolic blood pressure was seen in both men and women, the link between diastolic blood pressure and alcohol was seen only in women.