We immediately think about heart health when we think of high blood pressure. After all, high blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, so the association makes sense. However, many people don’t realize that cumulative exposure to high blood pressure is also a major risk factor for dementia.
The long and short of it is that high blood pressure is a major risk factor we should all try our best to avoid.
This brings us back to our weekend choices and whether the occasional cocktail or glass of wine is really that bad for our health. Well, apologies in advance for being a buzzkill, but even moderate alcohol consumption doubles the risk of developing stage two hypertension (high blood pressure).
In this case, moderate alcohol consumption is as little as seven drinks per week. That might seem like a lot, but considering that just five ounces of wine count as one drink and most generous at-home pours tend to fall in the six to eight-ounce range, it can be easy to hit that seven-drink threshold over an entire week.
And, of course, the more alcohol you consume beyond that seven-drink threshold, the higher your risk for hypertension.
An analysis of 36 different trials also showed that decreasing alcohol consumption could dramatically lower high blood pressure. This means that even if you have been drinking a little more than you’d like for some time, cutting back your consumption can almost immediately bring your blood pressure back down. This is promising news if you are a drinker and your blood pressure is currently high.
Phew. So as long as you are no longer doing kegstands or bottomless brunches, those college years should no longer be weighing you down.
The key takeaway? You don’t necessarily have to participate in Sober October to optimize your health. The occasional drink isn’t healthy, but the dose makes the poison, so one or two drinks a week seems to be ok.
Your blood pressure is an important biomarker to keep an eye on. It won’t tell you everything about your health, but it will tell you a lot about your risk potential for cardiovascular disease and dementia.
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