Yes, drinking alcohol can thin a person’s blood and interfere with the blood clotting process in two ways: (1) by reducing the number of platelets in your blood and (2) making existing platelets less viscous. While these changes aren’t severe for most people, those on blood-thinning (anticoagulant) medications are usually advised to restrict their alcohol intake to an average of one standard drink a day.
Effects of Alcohol on Blood Pressure
Alcohol increases heart rate as well as raises blood pressure during the initial phases of intoxication. As a result, excessive drinking increases the risk of experiencing cardiovascular-related conditions, such as heart attacks and stroke. This is in addition to disease of other organs like wet brain disease and liver damage.
A mild increase in blood pressure due to alcohol use is generally not detrimental for those with healthy blood pressure. However, those already dealing with blood-pressure-related or heart conditions are urged to only drink in moderation.
If a person has hypertension, drinking many days in a row or drinking too much in one episode is very dangerous and can even be lethal. Elevated blood pressure puts undue stress on the heart and increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, and failure.
Fortunately, many alcoholics who quit drinking see a reduction in blood pressure. In addition, those who come to treatment with high blood pressure often return to normal levels within a month of not drinking.
Technically, drinking no more than two drinks for men or a single drink for women consumed on any day can temporarily reduce blood pressure. However, this does not suggest that drinking is healthy, nor should individuals utilize alcohol to manage blood pressure.
There are safer and more reliable ways to control high blood pressure than regular drinking. Much of the research that makes this claim does not consider other lifestyle choices, such as diet and exercise, which usually have a much more substantial impact on blood pressure.
Combining Alcohol and Blood Thinners
The combined effects of blood-thinning agents and alcohol can be hazardous because they can cause excessive bleeding and bruising. Internal bleeding is the riskiest because it is challenging to identify. Thin blood also makes it challenging for the body to heal from everyday injuries.
One occasional drink is not likely to cause significant health complications. However, even moderate drinking in conjunction with anticoagulant medications can increase the risk of bleeding-type strokes over time and also blood loss from what should otherwise be considered a minor injury. This goes for all anticoagulant medications, including the following:
- Apixaban (Eliquis)
- Dabigatran (Pradaxa)
- Enoxaparin (Lovenox)
- Rivaroxaban (Xarelto)
- Warfarin (Coumadin)
Alcohol can interact with blood thinners by enhancing their effects. While the interactions between alcohol and blood thinners aren’t fully understood, most medical experts agree that limiting or avoiding alcohol use when using anticoagulant medications is the safest option.
Understand the Risks
Blood thinners can be life-saving for those who genuinely need them, but as with many medications, they do come with some risks. Therefore, carefully reading all warning labels related to alcohol and blood thinners can be extremely helpful.
Some medical experts believe drinking one to two drinks per day may be okay in terms of alcohol and blood thinners for healthy individuals, but anything above this amount could be risky. In fact, people who use blood thinners regularly for a health or bleeding disorder may be at a heightened risk of excessive bleeding in general and are advised to avoid drinking alcohol altogether. Heavy bleeding can result in the need for emergency care and could lead to death.
The risks of mixing alcohol and blood thinners are even more hazardous for those also using another medication that can adversely interact with blood thinners, including the following:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs),
- Vitamin K-rich foods
Getting Treatment for Alcohol Abuse and Addiction
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery are specialized addiction treatment facilities that offer residential and partial hospitalization programs. Our approach to helping individuals overcome substance abuse includes a wide variety of therapies, services, and experiential activities, such as the following:
- Medical detox
- Behavioral therapy
- Individual counseling
- Family counseling
- Peer group support
- Co-occurring disorders treatment
- Relapse prevention techniques
- Addiction education
- Health and wellness education
- Art and music therapy
- Aftercare planning
- Alumni activities