Alcohol consumption and high blood pressure
Central effects of alcohol are associated with activation of the sympathetic nervous system (1). Alcohol increases postganglionar sympathetic efferences. Compared with earlier investigations on oral alcohol intake, the alcohol-induced gastric effects and insulin-mediated effects could be excluded. The study also showed that alcohol has direct peripheral effects that, after blockade of central mechanisms, lead to a reduced peripheral resistance and blood pressure during acute administration. The mechanisms underlying the vasodilating effect of alcohol remain unclear. It is also not known, why alcohol exhibits a vasodilating effect on the heart, but a vessel-narrowing effect on the muscle bed of skeletal muscle. The acute vasodilating component of alcohol is counteracted in the intact organism by the vasoconstriction arising from sympathetic activation. In treated hypertensive persons,  a moderate consumption of alcohol is associated with a reduced cardiovascular risk. If one considers that alcohol has a blood pressure-raising effect, then this potentially protective effect becomes questionable. It should also be mentioned that calories from alcohol contribute very often to an inadequately high caloric intake.

1. Randin D, Vollenweider P, Tappy L, Jequier E, Nicod P, Scherrer U: Suppression of alcohol-induced hypertension by dexamethasone. N Engl J Med 1995;332:1733-1737