ZocdocAnswersDoes alcohol cause blood pressure to drop?

Question

Does alcohol cause blood pressure to drop?

Can drinking alcohol drop your blood pressure? My father is 66 and he gets in-home nursing visits periodically. Last time he was visited, he had been drinking whiskey ? now I'm worried that gave him a falsely low reading. Should the nurse have compensated if she knew he was drinking?

Answer

When patients such as your father are getting care at home from visiting nurses, it is very important to communicate with his primary care physician anything you see as an issue in his care. In this case it sounds like the nurse was just measuring his vital signs for routine monitoring. Single time blood pressure readings are important if blood pressure is dangerously low or dangerously high. Alcohol can decrease blood pressure when consumed in moderation while it raises blood pressure when consumed in excess. So which direction his blood pressure was affected may depend on how much whiskey he consumed and how often he consumes it. In general, which ever direction alcohol changes blood pressure, it does not change it enough in a single sitting to worry about a falsely low reading. The only thing to do in this case is have your father not drink next time the nurse comes over and you will get a more accurate reading. Nevertheless, I do believe this is an issue that could be brought up with his primary care physician if for nothing else to make him or her aware of the situation. Good communication with his doctor is a critical step in maintaining the therapeutic alliance between patient and doctor. Good luck.

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