Are Alcohol and Caffeine Raising Your Blood Pressure?

A person in a yellow shirt with a blood pressure cuff around their arm
Jun 30, 2022

This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It does not constitute a medical opinion, medical advice, or diagnosis or treatment of any particular condition. 

Coffee and alcohol are a big part of many peoples’ lives (it’s not just us, right?). In the US, 62% of Americans drink coffee every day, according to the National Coffee Association. But considering the many varying studies on these beverages, it can be confusing to figure out whether coffee and alcohol are good or bad for you. One concern is how these drinks might impact your blood pressure. We did a deep dive to find out if your daily cup of coffee or glass of wine could raise your blood pressure. And when to consider cutting back (or switching to decaf or non-alcoholic options). 

QQ: What exactly is blood pressure?

It refers to the pressure of blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels. Which helps move your blood through your body. And allows oxygen and nutrients to reach other parts of your body (see: tissues and organs). Normal blood pressure is considered less than 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mm/Hg). And no, you’re not alone if you have no idea what those numbers mean. Here’s your cheat sheet: The top number measures the systolic blood pressure (the pressure the heart exerts when it beats), and the bottom number measures the diastolic blood pressure (when the heart relaxes between beats). 

When you have “high” blood pressure (which starts at 140/90 mm Hg), that means your heart has to work harder to pump blood to the rest of your body. And it puts you at a higher risk of heart disease and heart failure.

Does alcohol raise blood pressure? 

Yup. Even moderate amounts of alcohol could increase your blood pressure. When you drink, your blood pressure might increase because of… 

  • Hormones. Alcohol increases a hormone called renin-angiotensin-aldosterone, which constricts your blood vessels.  

  • Baroreceptor sensitivity. Baroreceptors are what regulate your blood pressure. And alcohol prevents them from doing that. 

  • Blood calcium. Drinking alcohol causes the amount of calcium that binds to your blood vessels, which can cause them to constrict. 

Is it OK to drink alcohol if I have high blood pressure?

If you have high blood pressure, the Mayo Clinic recommends avoiding alcohol or drinking only in moderation. Because alcohol can increase blood pressure even more. Moderate drinking is considered one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. And if you’re on blood pressure medications, ask your doctor, since alcohol might interact with them. 

Does coffee raise blood pressure?

Coffee can temporarily increase your blood pressure, since it constricts the blood vessels. But the increase typically lasts only three to four hours. And it might not happen at all if you’ve developed a high tolerance to caffeine. 

Is it OK to drink coffee if I have high blood pressure?

If you have high blood pressure, it’s a good idea to drink coffee in moderation (no more than three to four cups a day). But if you’re already drinking it regularly, you might have a tolerance to caffeine, which could mean that your blood pressure won’t change as much. So check with your doctor about how much coffee is safe for you. 

How can I prevent developing high blood pressure? 

Lots of ways. You can try incorporating regular exercise into your routine, cutting back on alcohol, eating healthful foods (with less salt). If your blood pressure is high (which only a doctor can determine), a doctor may prescribe you medication to manage it.

theSkimm

It's great (and responsible) to wonder whether coffee and alcohol can raise your blood pressure. The bad news: Even moderate amounts of alcohol can increase blood pressure. The good news: while coffee might raise your blood pressure temporarily, some research suggests it may even be good for you. So go ahead and treat yourself to that iced coffee.  

This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It does not constitute a medical opinion, medical advice, or diagnosis or treatment of any particular condition. 


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