Can alcohol and smoking cause hypertension?
First of all, it helps to know how hypertension, or high blood pressure, arises.
Hypertension is caused by a variety of factors, from age, genetics, to lifestyle, which is the only cause we can still fairly control.
And so making certain lifestyle changes, like giving up smoking and moderating alcohol consumption can help minimize the risk of hypertension in the future.
This is because both of these lifestyle factors can increase the risk of developing hypertension, or high blood pressure, which in turn increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease later on in life.
Whether you have already been diagnosed with high blood pressure or have hypertension risk factors, it is always best to be one step ahead to maintain heart health.
And the first step is to know exactly what you should be protecting yourself against.
How can alcohol and smoking cause hypertension?
What smoking can do to blood pressure
Smoking causes an immediate spike in blood pressure. The nicotine in tobacco products stimulates the release of chemicals that can constrict blood vessels and contribute to high blood pressure.
Smoking also causes long-term damage to blood vessels, by constricting flow and circulation to other organs over time. This further increases the chance of developing heart problems in the future.
And so the combination of smoking and hypertension puts you at greater risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular event compared to non-smokers with hypertension.
What drinking alcohol can do to blood pressure
Alcohol consumption, around three or more drinks in one setting, can cause increased blood pressure levels.
When done habitually, heavy alcohol consumption can lead to long-term hypertension.
And so moderating alcohol consumption can help keep blood pressure in check and prevent health problems.
The recommended amount is to have no more than one alcoholic beverage per day for women, and no more than two drinks per day for men.
Moderating alcohol consumption and quitting smoking
It can be quite challenging to moderate alcohol consumption or quit smoking. But it can be done.
The key is taking the first step, and getting the right support and motivation to help you along the way.
Here are some good ideas to get started.
Commit to quitting
It could help to be very firm with your intention to quit smoking or lessen alcohol intake.
Some tips would be to set a date and eve, sign a contract, to condition your mind on the track of giving up these long-held habits.
Getting rid of all of your tobacco supplies – cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays, anything related to smoking – and checking with your doctor about trying a nicotine patch or gum can also help.
Avoid known triggers
Do you find yourself craving a cigarette while watching TV, after eating, or during a phone conversation?
Keeping yourself busy to avoid those triggers can help. You can try taking a walk after meals, instead of watching TV or meeting up with friends for coffee, instead of drinks.
To make the transition easier, engaging in a fun activity to take your mind off smoking and drinking – going to the mall to shop or watch movies or staying in to learn a new hobby and skill give you a sense of enjoyment and satisfaction.
Make alcohol a limited indulgence
Instead of settling in on the couch with a six-pack or a bottle of wine, try limiting alcohol consumption to one drink per day. Be sure to remember serving sizes – a serving of wine is 5 ounces; a serving of beer is 12 ounces; and a serving of liquor is 1.5 ounces.
Recognize the signs of dependence
If you have a difficult time limiting alcohol, you might need extra support. Seek out trusted relatives and friends to help you through it.
And when alcohol starts affecting work, school, or relationships, it is time to seek professional help. Support groups can help, but a detoxification program (complete withdrawal from alcohol use) and rehabilitation may be necessary if you are a heavy drinker.
And most importantly, be gentle with yourself.
Give yourself permission to falter once in a while. And when you do, get back up and try again tomorrow.
The road to better health can be filled with obstacles. And quitting smoking or regulating alcohol consumption isn’t a one-time thing. It often requires constant commitment and continuous motivation to be able to stick to it.
But with the right information, resources, and support the process of minimizing these risk factors of hypertension can be a whole lot easier.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.