Effects of Alcohol on Heart Health

If you ask your doctor about how to prevent heart disease, you will hear a lot of advice that sounds obvious. Saturated and trans fats: bad. Smoking: very bad. Sports: very good. However, if you are looking for info about alcohol and heart, the answer varies. Depending on its use, alcohol can protect or destroy the heart. So, if you like alcohol, you might be able to limit your life for several years by learning the difference between healthy activities and life-threatening habits. Visit Serenity Recovery Center and we will help you recover from alcoholism.

 

How does drinking lots of alcohol harm the heart?

For the beginning, large amounts of alcohol (more than 2 glasses in a day) can increase blood pressure to an unhealthy level. If, for example, you drink the equivalent of six boxes of beer, a glass of whiskey, or 1 ½ bottle of wine every day for 10 years, the habit will damage part of the heart. The results are often in the form of cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart muscle weakens. In fact, after the arteries are blocked, alcohol is the second common trigger of cardiomyopathy.

A broken heart cannot pump efficiently, and is prone to blood clots and odd rhythms (arrhythmias), especially when drinking lots of alcohol. (Some doctors call this episode of arrhythmia a “heart off”). If you continue to drink, the impact is severe. About half of alcoholics who keep drinking after starting cardiomyopathy die within 4 years.

The good news is that most damage can be repaired. If a person with cardiomyopathy abstains from drinking, blood pressure decreases and the heart can grow stronger faster. The best thing is that more than 90% of alcoholics will still live the next 4 years.

Drinking lots of alcohol — usually described as drinking 3 or more glasses a day — over a long period of time has also been associated with hypertension, stroke, cardiac arrhythmias, and sudden death.