Alcohol and Hypertension

A new factsheet from Alcohol Concern, released on Monday 18 May, looks at the increasing risk alcohol has on hypertension.


Hypertension, a form of continued high blood pressure, is a condition experienced by more than one in four adults in the England, with alcohol being a major contributory factor in its development.

Regularly drinking alcohol increases the risk of developing hypertension.  Just one drink a day makes people more likely to develop hypertension and drinking two or three increases the risk substantially. Currently there are over five million people in England unaware they suffer from it and without treatment; hypertension significantly increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, vascular dementia and chronic kidney disease. 

The factsheet from Alcohol Concern highlights:

  • Health risks quickly escalate with higher amounts of alcohol
  • More than three alcoholic drinks a day can increase the chance of developing hypertension in later life by up to 75%
  • Despite being largely preventable, high blood pressure costs the NHS over £2 billion each year
  • Alcohol-attributable hypertension accounted for over 300,000 hospital admissions in 2010/11, making it the most prevalent alcohol-related health condition

Jackie Ballard, Chief Executive at Alcohol Concern, said: “There is a well documented relationship which shows people have a higher risk of developing hypertension the more alcohol they consume. Having just one drink a day can increase the risk, and the overall risk climbs higher for every drink after that.  

“The relationship between alcohol and hypertension stays significant even when age, weight, gender, ethnicity, diet, exercise and smoking habits are taken into account. This means alcohol is one of the most controllable and preventable risk factors for hypertension.”

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance said: “Alcohol is no ordinary product and people need to be aware of the risks associated with its use. Evidence-based health warnings on alcohol labels would allow people to make an informed choice.

“Research from the Alcohol Health Alliance shows that the public are largely unaware of the range of health risks associated with alcohol. From a consumer rights point of view, people have a right to this information.”

To read the full factsheet, please click here.

This factsheet is the first in a series to be published by Alcohol Concern, highlighting the risks alcohol has on different health conditions.

Lundbeck Ltd, a pharmaceutical company, has provided funding support for the development and printing of this factsheet. Lundbeck has had no editorial control over the content which has been reviewed for factual accuracy only.

I’m so pleased to see this kind of fact sheet being produced but remain wary as although it is provided by the charity Alcohol Concern its production has been supported by funding from Lundbeck the maker of the pharmaceutical drug Selincro, also known as Nalmefene. Although the raising of awareness is welcome being cynical one could argue that this companies involvement is motivated by its need to drive the prescription of its drug ……

2 thoughts on “Alcohol and Hypertension

  1. This is a very good article.

    Your scepticism about the funding is fair, but in my clinical experience as a psychologist treating the psychological factors in alcohol dependency, I have observed Nalmefene to be a valuable adjunct to psychological therapy when prescribed by a psychiatrist. It is best used by heavy drinkers who do not require detox and can reduce the urge to drink that is such a trigger to relapse.

    1. Hi Annie Thank you for reading and commenting on my blog 🙂 It’s good to hear some clinical experiential evidence of its efficacy as I have become cynical of pharma after too many years as a nurse!!

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