Question: What problems might result from drinking alcohol and taking certain heart medications?
Answer: Alcohol has an effect on the blood vessels. It dilates the blood vessels so they get bigger. That can reduce blood pressure.
In an individual who's taking a medication that does vasodilate, or does make the blood vessels get bigger -- like medicines for high blood pressure, like some nitrates that are taken for patients who have angina -- taking alcohol with those medicines could cause a dizzy spell or a frank blackout spell.
And it may happen particularly posturally. And by that I mean, when you stand from a sitting position to an upright position, that may produce a light headed spell or a frank blackout.
This is particularly important in individuals who are in a hot tub because the high temperature of the water produces this kind of vasodilatation and can reduce the blood pressure. And that's one of the normal relaxing effects of a hot tub.
But drinking in that situation can produce a potentially very dangerous reduction in blood pressure and could cause a blackout.
Medications like Viagra, which produce vasodilatation should be taken cautiously, if at all, with alcohol because the summating effects of these medications then can produce a dangerously low blood pressure with a dizzy spell or a blackout.