Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure by several points. It can also reduce the effectiveness of blood pressure medications. Limiting alcohol to less than one drink a day for women or two drinks a day for men can help lower blood pressure by about 4 mm Hg. (The abbreviation mm Hg stands for millimeters of mercury and is how pressure is measured.)
The definition of “one drink” varies by alcohol type and strength. According to the CDC, it is:
- 12 oz. of beer (5% alcohol content)
- 8 oz. of malt liquor (7% alcohol content)
- 5 oz. of wine (12% alcohol content)
- 5 oz. or a “shot” of 80-proof (40% alcohol content) distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, whiskey)
Another risky substance is nicotine. Stopping smoking helps lower blood pressure. It can also reduce the risk of heart disease and lung cancer and improve overall health. If you are a current or former smoker, you may be eligible for Vancouver Clinic’s lung cancer screening program. Our fully accredited program offers ongoing lung health monitoring, helping catch cancer early, when it is most treatable.
Avoiding toxins is key to the lifestyle medicine approach to managing hypertension. Please talk to your primary care provider if you need support with substance use. Our clinicians are here to empower you with the tools you need to be successful.
Read about other ways lifestyle medicine can help you prevent hypertension:
- Hypertension prevention tip #1: Love people
- Hypertension prevention tip #2: Eat plants
- Hypertension prevention tip #3: Keep moving
- Hypertension prevention tip #4: Sleep well
Dr. Joan Hunter is an internist at Vancouver Clinic. She enjoys working with patients to help them make small changes that lead to better wellness. She has a special interest in women’s health and lifestyle medicine.