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Alcohol and your blood pressure

 

Drinking too much alcohol will raise your blood pressure over time, and heavy drinking raises it further.

Alcohol also contains a lot of calories which can make you gain weight, which in turn will raise your blood pressure.

Using some simple tricks to cut down on alcohol will help to lower your blood pressure, without having to cut it out altogether.

 

What is a safe amount of alcohol to drink?

There is no amount of alcohol that can be thought of as safe, but the government advises that regularly drinking more than 14 units per week risks damaging your health – for both men and women. Keeping to this limit will help to keep your blood pressure down.

Avoid drinking more than six units in six hours, which is classed as binge drinking – that’s less than three 175ml glasses of wine or three pints of beer in an evening.

What is a unit of alcohol?
One unit of alcohol is the equivalent of 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol. But because alcoholic drinks have different strengths and come in different sizes, knowing what counts as a unit is not always easy – it’s often a lot less than you think.

The alcohol content of wine ranges from 11%-14% which means a single 175ml glass can contain between 1.9 and 2.4 units, and a 250ml glass can contain between 2.8 and 3.5 units.

What does 14 units look like?

  • 6 175ml glasses of wine (13%)
  • 6 pints of normal-strength beer or ale (4%)
  • 5 pints of cider (4.5%)
  • 14 single 25ml measures of spirits (40%)

Remember if your drinks are stronger than this (have a higher percentage of alcohol) then it will take fewer drinks to add up to the 14 units.

 

How to drink less alcohol

Start by working out how much you drink in the average week and see if it’s under 14 units.  Then follow these tips to help you have a good night out, or in, without having to worry about your blood pressure.

Even if you are drinking less than the recommended limit, you can still benefit from drinking a little less.

Here are some ideas to help you cut back:

  • Try low-alcohol options – there are a number of lower-strength beers and wines on the market.
  • Choose bottles instead of pints – and small glasses instead of large ones.
  • Check the label – many drinks' labels now tell you how many units they contain, and how many calories.
  • Make your drinks last longer – add mixers or water.
  • Alternate with soft drinks – drink a soft drink or a glass of water between alcoholic drinks.
  • Avoid bar snacks like crisps and peanuts – the added salt will make you want to drink more, and will raise your blood pressure.
  • Have alcohol free days – spread your drinks out throughout the week, and have days off.
  • Buy a measure – If you drink at home, use a measure so that you know how much you are drinking.
  • Watch out for large wine glasses and tumblers – and for generous serving staff refilling your drinks without asking!

Drinking less is good for your heart, liver, blood pressure and your risk of stroke, and it could improve your mood and help you sleep better so you wake up full of beans.

There is support available if you need it. Visit NHS Livewell or your GP, or call Drinkline for free on 0300 123 1110.

 

 

 

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