Alcohol can be a cause of high blood pressure. Losartan is a common medication used to lower blood pressure.
Drinking alcohol while you are taking losartan can lead to increased effects of the medication, which has the potential to cause blood pressure that is too low (hypotension).
While it may be safe to have a drink every now and then, only your medical provider can tell you if it’s safe to consume alcohol if you take losartan.
In this article, we’ll explore how alcohol affects blood pressure, the side effects of losartan, and the potential risks of mixing the two.
What is Losartan?
Losartan is a type of medication commonly used to treat high blood pressure. It is an angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB).
Hypertension impacts 116 million Americans and only 1 in 4 have their blood pressure well-controlled.
While high blood pressure is common, if left untreated, it can cause damage to organs and problems such as:
- Loss of vision and cognitive impairment
- Heart disease, heart attack, or heart failure
- Kidney failure and other kidney problems
There are many effective treatments for keeping blood pressure under control.
How does losartan work?
Losartan and other ARB medications work by preventing a hormone, angiotensin II, from binding with receptors.
When hormones don’t connect with receptors, they can’t exert their action. Angiotensin II causes blood vessels to constrict, leading to an increase in blood pressure.
By blocking the action of angiotensin II, losartan and other ARBs can prevent high blood pressure. This decreases strain on the heart since high blood pressure means it is working harder than it needs to.
Losartan also increases the body’s output of urine, which leads to less water retention and lower sodium levels. This also decreases how much fluid the heart has to pump, which also lowers blood pressure.
It typically starts working within 6 hours and the effects last for 24 hours. It is taken every day at the same time in order to properly regulate blood pressure.
How Does Alcohol Affect Blood Pressure?
Regular alcohol intake can lead to high blood pressure.
While an occasional drink here or there is usually not problematic, for people who already have high blood pressure for other reasons, regularly drinking alcohol may worsen the problem.
Is it Safe to Drink Alcohol While Taking Losartan?
Most healthcare providers recommend avoiding alcohol while you are being treated for high blood pressure.
This is for a few reasons:
- Alcohol can increase blood pressure, which can make it harder to treat hypertension.
- Alcohol intake can cause symptoms, like headache or dizziness, that may overlap with side effects of losartan.
- Alcohol is metabolized in the liver, which means that it can change the way that the body breaks down medication. Alcohol can increase the effects of losartan, making it seem like you took a higher dose. This could result in a more significant drop in blood pressure. If blood pressure gets too low, it’s known as hypotension. This can cause dizziness, fainting, and could cause problems with normal heart rhythm. In some cases, this can be very serious.
While a healthcare provider may give the OK for occasional alcohol intake while you are being treated for high blood pressure, it is important to check with them first to ensure there are no serious drug interactions.
Losartan Side Effects
Losartan is generally well-tolerated. Common side effects may include:
In some cases, losartan may lead to more serious side effects:
- Chest pain
- Trouble breathing or swallowing
- Allergic reactions or swelling of the face, eyes, throat, lips, or tongue
If you notice any of these serious signs, get medical help right away.
The Risks of Mixing Alcohol With Blood Pressure Medications
All blood pressure medications work to keep your blood pressure levels within safe limits.
Because alcohol can generally lead to higher blood pressure, regular intake can make it harder to control your condition.
Alcohol is broken down in the liver, and when you take medication, your body also relies on the liver to make sure it gets properly metabolized so you get the benefits.
Alcohol can lead to a slower clearance of blood pressure medications, which means your body retains higher levels of the drug for longer. This can lead to stronger effects, which in some cases might make blood pressure drop too low.
While you don’t want high blood pressure, low blood pressure can also be a concern, especially when it is caused by medication.
Regularly consuming alcohol while you are taking losartan or being treated for hypertension can lead to some moderate risks. This may increase the chances of:
- Dizziness, fainting, or falling
- Drowsiness and severe fatigue
- Muscle cramping
- Unstable blood pressure levels, either too high or too low
For some people, pairing alcohol with losartan can result in more serious problems, including the following:
- Upset stomach, nausea, or vomiting
- Heart rhythm problems (arrhythmia)
- Severely low blood pressure
- Chest pains
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice) or other liver problems
If you notice these serious side effects, seek emergency medical care.
When to See a Medical Provider
If you are being treated with losartan for hypertension or another condition, ask a medical provider before consuming alcohol.
Frequently Asked Questions
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
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Influence of alcohol consumption on effectiveness of antihypertensive in male patients with essential hypertension. (2005).
Dietary guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. (2020).
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