Does Alcohol Increase Heart Rate?

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Alcohol is one of the most consumed beverages worldwide. Although moderate alcohol consumption is generally considered safe, excessive alcohol consumption can bring about a variety of health problems, but does alcohol increase heart rate?

There is a clear association between regularly consuming too much alcohol and high blood pressure levels. Over time, hypertension (the clinical descriptor for high blood pressure) will strain the heart muscle, potentially triggering cardiovascular disease and increasing the risk of stroke and heart attack.

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Why Does Alcohol Increase Heart Rate?

Alcohol is a CNS depressant that slows the central nervous system, inducing a sense of drowsiness and relaxation. Simultaneously, alcohol also increases heart rate, dangerous for those with pre-existing heart conditions.

Why does alcohol increase heart rate, though?

This paradoxical effect is caused by alcohol forcing blood vessels to dilate, at the same time lowering blood pressure levels. The heart will beat faster to compensate for this and to maintain proper blood flow throughout the body, keeping the body in homeostasis.

Beyond this, alcohol stimulates the release of stress hormones like adrenaline, which also increases heart rate. As a result, consuming even small amounts of alcohol can prompt an increase in heart rate, particularly in individuals with heart problems.

An analysis of studies conducted in 2020 illustrates that consuming one standard drink (12oz beer, 5oz wine, or 1.5oz liquor) led to an increase in heart rate of 5 BPM (beats per minute) over six hours. Consuming more than two standard drinks caused a more pronounced and prolonged increase in heart rate over 24 hours.

Drunk Heart Rate When Sleeping

Alcohol can also impact your heart rate when you are sleeping. Your heart rate will slow down as you sleep due to the body’s circadian rhythm. If you consume alcohol before bed, though, this can disrupt the natural rhythm of the body, causing your heart rate to remain elevated as you sleep. If you have existing heart problems or you are susceptible to cardiovascular disease, an elevated heart rate overnight may increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, and other cardiovascular complications – more on these below.

A SleepWatch survey shows that consuming alcohol before sleeping can cause heart rate to increase by 10%, translating to an extra 3,000 heartbeats overnight.

Alcohol may help you to fall asleep but can also cause your heart rate to rise at the same time, impairing the quality and quantity of sleep that you get.

Does alcohol increase heart rate while sleeping?

Yes, alcohol can suppress the nervous system and cause heart rate to increase during sleep. Initially, heart rate decreases. As alcohol is metabolized by the body, it triggers the opposite effect and increases heart rate.

How Long Does Alcohol Increase Heart Rate?

The duration of the increased heart rate caused by alcohol varies depending on several factors, such as:

  • Amount of alcohol consumed
  • Age
  • Weight
  • Overall health
  • Tolerance to alcohol

Typically, the effects of alcohol on the heart rate are noticeable within 10 to 20 minutes after consumption. The heart rate increases as the blood vessels widen, causing a rush of blood to the skin’s surface. This increase in heart rate can last for several hours, depending on the amount and frequency of alcohol consumption.

In some cases, alcohol consumption can lead to holiday heart syndrome, a condition in which heart rate becomes irregular or abnormal. This condition can last for several days, even after you have stopped drinking. 

Other Cardiovascular Effects of Alcohol

Alcohol can have both short-term and long-term effects on the cardiovascular system. Some of the other cardiovascular effects of alcohol include:

  • Increase in blood pressure: Consuming large amounts of alcohol can cause a significant increase in blood pressure, which may lead to long-term problems with heart health.
  • Cardiac arrhythmias: Drinking alcohol can trigger heart rhythm abnormalities, such as atrial fibrillation and ventricular arrhythmias, especially in those who have a preexisting heart condition.
  • Weakening of the heart muscle: Chronic heavy drinking can lead to alcohol-induced cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart muscle becomes weakened, enlarged, and unable to pump blood effectively.
  • Increased risk of stroke: Drinking alcohol can increase the risk of stroke due to the effects on blood pressure, heart rhythm, and increased clotting factors.
  • Enhanced risk of heart disease: Long-term excessive alcohol consumption can lead to an increased risk of developing heart disease, including coronary artery disease, which can lead to heart attacks and other complications.

 People with a history of high blood pressure should consider avoiding alcohol completely.

Inpatient Alcohol Rehab at California Detox

If you have a severe alcohol use disorder, you will likely benefit from the support and structure of an inpatient alcohol rehab like California Detox in Southern California. Those with co-occurring mental health conditions like depression or anxiety can access integrated treatment of both conditions with our dual diagnosis treatment program.

 Begin your alcohol addiction treatment program with a supervised medical detox. Take advantage of medications and continuous medical monitoring to ensure that detoxification is as safe and comfortable as possible. After 7 to 10 days, you can move directly into ongoing therapy at our luxury beachside treatment facility.

Over the following month, you will engage with a personalized array of these treatments:

  • MAT (medication-assisted treatment): FDA-approved medications can be beneficial during detox and throughout ongoing recovery
  • Psychotherapy: Identify your addiction triggers and develop healthier coping mechanisms.
  • Individual counseling: Work closely with a therapist to explore the root cause of your alcohol addiction.
  • Group therapy: Get support from peers with lived experience of alcohol addiction.
  • Family therapy: Start repairing relationships damaged by the effects of alcohol abuse by involving your family members in your recovery.
  • Holistic therapies: To supplement evidence-based treatment, access a wide range of holistic therapies at our Laguna Beach alcohol rehab.

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FAQs

Alcohol can raise the heart rate by up to 5 beats per minute over a period of 6 hours.
Your resting heart rate may increase to 100 BPM after drinking alcohol, depending on your normal resting heart rate. This is an expected effect of consuming alcohol. If your resting heart rate is consistently above 100 beats per minute – tachycardia – this indicates the presence of an underlying problem.

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