It's December, the year is coming to an end and Christmas parties & celebrations are in full swing. While these can be a great opportunity to mingle with co-workers, friends and loved ones - it's also important to be wary about our alcohol intake for a number of reasons. The impact of excess alcohol consumption goes beyond poor dancing and perhaps embarrassing encounters. It can have a huge impact on our health. Today, we'll join the dots between alcohol and blood pressure. 

Research has found that drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can raise blood pressure to unhealthy levels. In fact, consuming more than three drinks in one sitting temporarily raises your blood pressure. Repeated binge drinking can lead to long-term increases.

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for stroke and heart disease but has no symptoms - so prevention is key!

Studies have shown that heavy drinkers who cut back to moderate drinking can lower their systolic blood pressure by 2 to 4 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and their diastolic blood pressure by 1 to 2 mmHg.

Someone with high blood pressure should avoid alcohol, or drink alcohol only in moderation.
Moderate drinking is generally considered as two drinks a day for men younger than age 65, one drink a day for men aged 65 and older, and one drink a day for women of any age.

Keep in mind that alcohol contains kilojoules and may contribute to unhealthy weight gain - a risk factor for high blood pressure. 

Alcohol can also interfere with the effectiveness of some blood pressure medications as well as increase their side effects.