Alcohol wreaks havoc on the body, increases the risk of various health conditions, and impairs quality of life. These effects occur even more so with binge and heavy drinking or when a person suffers from alcoholism. Treatment of alcoholism is possible, and you or a loved one can start a new, healthier, and happier chapter of life. But it’s impossible not to wonder if the treatment of alcoholism can reverse some health complications, such as high blood pressure, caused by this problem.
In this post, we are going to focus on high blood pressure and whether alcoholism treatment can reverse it since that’s one of the most frequently asked questions.
How Common is High Blood Pressure?
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, refers to when the force of the blood (blood pressure) against the walls of your blood vessels is consistently too high.
High blood pressure is widely prevalent across the globe, and the United States isn’t an exception.
The numbers show that nearly half of adults in the U.S. (108 million or 45% of the population) have hypertension. Unfortunately, only one in four adults (24%) with hypertension has the condition under control.
Why Manage High Blood Pressure?
The severity of hypertension is largely underestimated, which explains why most people tend to disregard the importance of lifestyle measures that maintain normal blood pressure.
Before we start discussing what happens when you get alcoholism treatment, it’s important to explain why you need to be proactive about high blood pressure.
Hypertension is one of those conditions that keeps worsening when left unmanaged. Little by little, it causes significant damage. For example, high blood pressure can contribute to atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, heart failure, and thickening of the left heart ventricle. Hypertension can also damage your brain and contribute to stroke, dementia, mild cognitive impairment, and transient ischemic attack (TIA).
The consequences of high blood pressure don’t stop there. Consistently high blood pressure damages the eyes, kidneys, sexual performance, and negatively affects the quality of life.
Factors That Lead to High Blood Pressure
Generally speaking, anyone can develop hypertension, but some people are more likely to have this problem than others. Why is that? Well, a wide range of factors affects your likelihood of developing high blood pressure and make you more susceptible to this health concern.
Some of the most common risk factors for hypertension include the following:
- Being overweight or obese
- Certain chronic conditions such as diabetes, sleep apnea, and kidney disease
- Consuming a high-sodium diet
- Drinking alcohol
- Family history
- Insufficient consumption of potassium
- Sedentary lifestyle i.e., not being physically active
- Smoking tobacco
- Some medications
- Unmanaged stress
Does High Blood Pressure Have Symptoms?
Probably the biggest reason why only one in four people has high blood pressure under control is the absence of obvious symptoms. Unlike other health problems, high blood pressure doesn’t have a huge list of distinctive symptoms that tell you something’s wrong.
Most people don’t feel anything at all, even if their blood pressure reaches dangerously high levels.
On the other hand, some men and women do feel their blood pressure is elevated due to headaches, nosebleeds, and shortness of breath. That being said, these symptoms aren’t specific to hypertension.
If you belong to a group at higher risk of developing hypertension because of alcohol and you fall under other categories mentioned above, you should get your blood pressure monitored regularly.
How Does Alcohol Increase Blood Pressure?
Many people think alcohol is good for their hearts, and they drink a glass of wine every night. But for some people, it doesn’t stop with one glass. After the first glass, there comes the second, then third, and so on.
High consumption of alcohol increases blood pressure and thereby puts you at a higher risk of all complications associated with it.
When a person has a single alcoholic beverage, the acute elevation in blood pressure ensues. This usually resolves within two hours. Now imagine what it’s like when an individual drinks excessively every day. That leads to consistently high blood pressure and poses a threat to your health.
Studies show that the ingestion of alcohol raises the blood pressure by reducing the vasodilators, such as nitric oxide (NO) in the vascular endothelium. Chronic alcohol consumption, basically, decreases the production of nitric oxide or its release from endothelial cells.
Evidence confirms that binge drinking increases the development of atherosclerosis, the hardening and narrowing of arteries caused by a buildup of plaque. Atherosclerosis is a risk factor for heart attack and stroke. It’s worth mentioning that high blood pressure can lead to atherosclerosis, too.
The relationship between alcoholism and high blood pressure tends to develop in five phases. They are:
- Phase 1: the consumption of alcohol is linked with an increase in blood pressure. This effect is independent of age, sex, and other parameters.
- Phase 2: abstinence from alcohol reduces systolic and diastolic blood pressure
- Phase 3: resumption of drinking invariably increases blood pressure
- Phase 4: the alcohol-dependent patient with hypertension is at a higher risk of liver damage
- Phase 5: onset of end-stage liver disease when blood pressure is usually high
As seen above, alcohol elevates blood pressure directly. But it does so indirectly too. You see, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to weight gain and BMI increase because it’s high in calories. Being overweight also puts you at a higher risk of high blood pressure.
Can Alcoholism Treatment Reverse High Blood Pressure?
Men and women who develop alcoholism are at a higher risk of a multitude of health problems, and hypertension-related complications are among them.
Alcoholism is treatable, but is high blood pressure caused by chronic alcohol intake manageable too? Is high blood pressure due to alcoholism reversible?
Can you expect the blood pressure to lower once you recover from alcoholism? That’s a reasonable expectation.
A study published in the Lancet evaluated the effect of lowering alcohol consumption on the reduction of blood pressure. The team of scientists reviewed 36 trials with 2865 participants and published interesting findings.
In adults who drank two or fewer drinks per day, a reduction in alcohol consumption wasn’t associated with a significant decrease in blood pressure. On the other hand, in subjects who drank more than two drinks a day, reduced consumption of alcohol led to a significant lowering of blood pressure. These results are promising because they also indicate that once you stop drinking and recover from alcoholism successfully, you can expect the blood pressure to normalize.
Alcohol and Alcoholism journal published a study that focused on alcohol withdrawal primarily and its impact on hypertension. For the purpose of this research, scientists assessed blood pressure daily for 18 days in chronic alcoholics experiencing early alcohol withdrawal. In many subjects, blood pressure decreased, but in some of them, it increased.
Hypertension in detoxified participants was related to alcohol-independent high blood pressure or to a long-lasting alcohol-induced derangement of the mechanisms that regulate blood pressure. That being said, scientists conclude that complete alcohol abstinence must be recommended to all hypertensive alcoholics. Why? The study showed that alcohol withdrawal-induced transient hypertension was harmless, and abstinence leads to complete recovery from hypertension. More precisely, abstinence from alcohol through successful alcohol detox and treatment can help you recover from high blood pressure.
Speaking of increased blood pressure during treatment, some drugs used for recovery from alcoholism, such as disulfiram therapy, can also contribute to hypertension. That’s why the treatment of alcoholism is something you need to do with medical supervision and guidance at an alcohol detox center in Dallas-Fort Worth. That way, you’ll receive the best possible support to recover from alcohol and improve your health.
When it comes to alcohol abstinence, other pieces of evidence also confirm that treatment for alcoholism helps normalize blood pressure. One study aimed to assess the effect of one month of proven abstinence from alcohol on the 24-hour blood pressure profile in heavy alcohol drinkers.
Scientists enrolled 42 men, heavy drinkers, into the study. The subjects were admitted to a general ward for voluntary alcohol detox. Results showed that after one month of alcohol abstinence, blood pressure significantly decreased. These improvements are clinically relevant, and scientists concluded that cessation of alcohol consumption must be recommended as a priority for hypertensive alcohol drinkers.
Basically, alcoholism treatment normalizes blood pressure, but this is particularly important in people who are hypertensive as it is. The more alcohol you drink, the worse it could get, while abstinence can help you lower blood pressure to normal values.
It’s Not Just About Treatment for Alcoholism
As a growing body of evidence confirms that alcoholism treatment can normalize blood vessels, it’s easy to think that’s all it takes.
Normal blood pressure requires a healthy lifestyle.
In addition to alcoholism treatment, you should strive to make wiser, healthier lifestyle choices. These include regular exercise or, at least, higher physical activity levels.
Instead of a sedentary lifestyle, you may want to walk more, go jogging, or practice your favorite sport. Physical activity goes hand in hand with a well-balanced diet. Ditch the junk food and other unhealthy items and replace them with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other nutrient-rich food sources.
The healthier you are, the more motivated you will be to live an alcohol-free life. All this translates to normalized blood pressure and improved overall health and wellbeing.
Of course, a major part of a healthy lifestyle is stress management. As seen above in this post, unmanaged stress is a risk factor for hypertension. When you combine alcoholism and stress, you get higher blood pressure that puts your health at risk.
During alcohol treatment, you’ll get equipped with mechanisms to manage stress and other negative stimuli in your life. This will make you stronger and more determined to remain on the path toward complete recovery from alcoholism.
Alcoholism Treatment: What To Expect
Alcoholism is a serious problem with major potential to affect a person’s health and quality of life. It also has other negative effects, such as impaired relationships, work problems, just to name a few.
Throughout this post, we focused on the role of alcoholism treatment in the management of high blood pressure.
As you can see, it’s reasonable to expect blood pressure levels to normalize once you stop drinking alcohol and stick to it.
Additionally, sometimes blood pressure can increase during detox, but it restores to normal with abstinence.
Why is this all important?
Alcoholism treatment isn’t something that should be taken lightly and done on your own. The whole treatment requires a strategic approach and medical supervision. As withdrawal symptoms during medical detox programs for alcoholics occur, you get proper care at a treatment center when you start an inpatient program.
The inpatient alcohol rehab center for men combines detox, the first step toward alcohol recovery, and everything that comes after i.e., individual therapy sessions, group therapies, family therapies, and other types of therapies. A residential alcohol treatment program for women in Texas also educates patients and helps them improve the way they handle stress, equips them with new skills they can use in their day-to-day life.
Unfortunately, high blood pressure is a widely prevalent problem, and it affects a staggering number of Americans, over 100 million. Various factors lead to hypertension, and alcohol consumption is one of them. Having a drink increases blood pressure, but it lowers quite fast. However, binge drinking and heavy drinking are different, and they significantly increase blood pressure and wreak havoc on your health.
Alcohol elevates blood pressure by affecting nitric oxide production and constricting blood vessels. Since alcoholic beverages are high in calories, they contribute to weight gain, which leads to high blood pressure. The good thing is that alcoholism treatment normalizes blood pressure, and it’s recommended to people who engage in heavy drinking and to hypertensive patients. A proper treatment program is vital for a successful recovery and its benefits.
Are You Struggling With Alcoholism or Alcohol Abuse?
If you’re struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, give our team at Stonegate Center a call at (817) 993-9733 or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org! We have helped thousands of people struggling with alcohol use disorder achieve lifelong recovery from their addictions.
Our rehab center is located just west of Fort Worth, Texas, and is home to both Stonegate Center Creekside, our 90-day alcohol recovery program for men, and Stonegate Center Hilltop, our 90-day alcohol recovery program for women. Each location is faith-based and gender-separate with top-notch clinical, medical, and spiritual care.
While enrolled, you’ll have the opportunity to utilize cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in our individual therapy, group counseling, and equine therapy sessions. As well, you’ll be a part of our Alumni Community, which has its reach across the country.
So, give us a call or feel free to submit an insurance verification form, here, for a 100% confidential and free quote. Our drug and alcohol rehab center accepts most commercial health insurance providers like Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS), Aetna, Cigna, HealthChoice of Oklahoma, UnitedHealthcare, and more!
We look forward to having you join our recovery community!
John Eckelbarger is a Business Development Representative for Stonegate Center. With a BSA in Chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin, he has an interest in the neurobiology of addiction as well as the pharmacology of drugs. He hopes to bolster Stonegate Center’s status at the forefront of addiction medicine through bold, innovative content creation. He is currently pursuing his MBA in Finance from Texas Christian University.