Epidemiological, preclinical and clinical studies established the association between high alcohol consumption and hypertension. However the mechanism through which alcohol raises blood pressure remains elusive. Several possible mechanisms have been proposed such as an imbalance of the central nervous system, impairment of the baroreceptors, enhanced sympathetic activity, stimulation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, increased cortisol levels, increased vascular reactivity due to increase in intracellular calcium levels, stimulation of the endothelium to release vasoconstrictors and loss of relaxation due to inflammation and oxidative injury of the endothelium leading to inhibition of endothelium-dependent nitric oxide production. Loss of relaxation due to inflammation and oxidative injury of the endothelium by angiotensin II leading to inhibition of endothelium-dependent nitric oxide production is the major contributors of the alcohol-induced hypertension. For the prevention of alcohol-induced hypertension is to reduce the amount of alcohol intake. Physical conditioning/exercise training is one of the most important strategies to prevent/treat chronic alcohol-induced hypertension on physiological basis. The efficacious pharmacologic treatment includes the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin II type 1 receptor blockers (ARBs) which have antioxidant activity and calcium channel blockers. The most effective prevention and treatment of alcohol-induced hypertension is physical exercise and the use of ACE inhibitors or ARBs in the clinic.
Keywords: Alcohol; Hypertension; Mechanisms; Prevention/treatment; Vascular endothelium.