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How does alcohol affect blood pressure?

Numerous studies have shown that people who drink regularly tend to have higher blood pressure than those who do not. The relationship between alcohol intake and blood pressure may not be a simple one, however. The blood pressure of people who drink small amounts of alcohol (one or two drinks a day) may be a little lower than the pressure of nondrinkers. But people who have three or more drinks per day have a systolic pressure that is 3-4 mm Hg higher than nondrinkers and a diastolic pressure 1-2 mm Hg higher. With five or more drinks per day, the systolic pressure is typically 5-6 mm Hg higher than in nondrinkers, and the diastolic 2-4 mm Hg higher. Many of the studies that showed these associations between alcohol use and blood pressure were unable to show any influence of salt intake on blood pressure.