Did you know your heart pumps blood to nearly every cell in your body?
So when you drink alcohol, the alcohol is absorbed into your blood. It passes quickly into your bloodstream and travels to every part of your body. Alcohol affects your brain first, then your kidneys, lungs and liver.
An article from The Mayo Clinic says, “Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure to unhealthy levels. Having more than three drinks in one sitting temporarily raises blood pressure. Repeated binge drinking can lead to long-term increases in blood pressure.”
I've started to check my blood pressure. As a women who was a binge drinker, I was worried about my blood pressure and how alcohol and stress affected my body.
Stress = high blood pressure and when you add alcohol to the mix, your blood pressure probably isn’t at optimal levels.
Before, when I was stressed I'd drink alcohol. Remember, a few years ago there was the hype about red wine and lowering blood pressure. But, if you were like me, you were drinking 1/2-1 bottle of wine vs 1-2 glasses.
I can't go back and change my drinking habits, but I can make changes now that will help to keep my blood pressure at healthy levels.
Recently, my dad had some problems with high blood pressure. He decreased his sodium and increased his exercise routine by walking more. We encouraged him to see a cardiologist to give his heart a check up. Fortunately, he checked out ok but continues to monitor his blood pressure.
To see if you have high blood pressure, take it everyday for about 2 weeks. Blood pressure is a number you want to look at over time. If you had gone to the doctor and your blood pressure was high, it could be because of white coat syndrome. That means once you see a doctor or someone in a white coat your blood pressure goes up because you get extremely nervous. Monitoring your blood pressure for two weeks will give you a more accurate number. Your blood pressure also changes if you have caffeine in the morning or evening and even if you’re sitting or standing. So if you’re really concerned you might want to take your blood pressure at multiple times during the day, at the same times, for the two week period. If it seems high and you’re drinking caffeine you may want to cut down and then recheck your blood pressure.
The American Heart Association has a great article on blood pressure and where your numbers should be. Click here to read more on understanding your blood pressure numbers.
Blood pressure is one of those things that they call a silent killer because we can’t see that we have high blood pressure and many times we can’t feel the affects of high blood pressure, unless it’s extremely high or extremely low. The best way to tell what your blood pressure is is to get a blood pressure monitor at your local CVS or Walmart.
Also, for me, I am learning to control my stress in healthy ways. You can reduce your blood pressure by learning to breathe more. I read there was a study in Japan on breathing and blood pressure. It found that breathing 6 deep breaths in 30 seconds reduced subjects systolic blood pressure. Next month I will be exploring stress and breathing more. For now, try counting to 5 and slowly breathing in and filling your chest with a deep breath, then exhale slowly. Do this for 6 times and you will be at around the rate of the Japanese study.
And you are already being wise with your blood pressure and doing your heart good by limiting or eliminating alcohol consumption.
Written by Mama with a Mocktail
(Mama is not a doctor or nurse, only a health educator. Always consult with your health care practitioner if you are concerned with your blood pressure and heart health.)