Alcohol – The Effects of its Use on the Heart

We are all aware of the many negative side effects of alcohol. Yet, alcohol remains one of the most abused substances in the world. In fact, addiction can cause severe physical and psychological issues.

How Alcohol Affects the Heart

Some of the most common mental problems are:

  • Dependency
  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium
  • Blackouts

It can also cause certain physiologicalproblems such as:

  • Nerve damage
  • Cancer
  • Malnutrition
  • Stomach problems
  • Vitamin B deficiency
  • Ulcers
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease

Amazingly, there seems to be a strong connection between alcoholism and heart disease. Some of the most common heart problems are coronary heart disease, heart attack, arrhythmia, high blood pressure, and cardiomyopathy.

Alcohol and Coronary Heart Disease

Coronary heart disease is one of the most common heart problems. It is a disease that affects arteries in one’s heart. As a result of arteriosclerosis, blood vessels are unable to provide sufficient oxygen to the heart. Therefore, heart muscles start to die. There is evidence that moderate drinking can protect some patients from coronary heart disease. However, binge or heavy drinking can be the primary cause of the problem. Subsequently, alcohol consumption can cause high blood pressure and high cholesterol which are the main risk factors for coronary heart disease.

Alcohol and Heart Attack

If you don’t treat coronary heart disease, arteries can become completely clogged. Consequently, it can lead to a heart attack.

To be able to understand how a heart attack occurs, we must be aware of other negative effects alcohol. Excessive drinking can lead to high blood pressure and high-calorie intake. Those two factors combined lead to arteriosclerosis that later on, as the disease progresses, causes a heart attack.

Alcohol and Arrhythmia

Even a relatively small bit of drinking can cause heart arrhythmia. Incidentally, one of the most common disorders of a heart rhythm is atrial fibrillation. In most cases, this condition fades away after 24 hours, and it can be benign. However, in some cases, after the night of binge drinking, symptoms of atrial fibrillation can occur. Furthermore, it can be very unpleasant and even life-threatening. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Extremely fast heart beat
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Breathing problems

Alcohol and High Blood Pressure

Alcohol may have an adverse impact on one’s blood pressure in three different ways. They include short- term, long- term, and as a part of withdrawal symptoms. Notably, if you drink more than three drinks at a time, it will almost instantly raise your blood pressure.

When it comes to regular drinkers, consumption can lead to a long- term high blood pressure problems. If a person who is an addict suddenly stops drinking, it can cause high blood pressure. Consequently, this condition can persist for days.

In addition, alcoholic beverages contain a lot of calories that cause weight gain and high cholesterol. These can also lead to arteriosclerosis, which is one of the leading causes of high blood pressure.

Cardiomyopathy and Alcohol

Chronic alcohol abuse can lead to a disease called alcoholic cardiomyopathy. As it damages heart muscles, and it becomes unable to pump blood properly. Of course, if you don’t treat it, the disease can progress, causing heart failure.

Cardiomyopathy is one of the most severe alcohol-related heart diseases. It requires immediate treatment that consists of medications and lifestyle changes. Sometimes, the only solution is heart surgery or a heart transplant.

Prevention

When it comes to the safe amount one can drink, it is very difficult to determine what that amount is. Therefore, you need to take many factors into consideration such as gender, height, weight, chronic diseases, etc.

To prevent heart problems, the best option is not to drink at all. That well-known line “One glass of wine per day is good for your heart…” is only a myth. We all have to take care of our heart. Of course, this is by not drinking, not smoking, making sure to eat healthily, and exercise plenty.

If you think that you can’t stop drinking by yourself, do not be ashamed to ask for help.

Statistics

Studies have shown that heavy drinkers are at greater risks to develop cardiomyopathy and heart failure than non-drinkers. Needless to say more than half of million people die every year due to heart problems. Additionally, more than 700.000 people suffer from a heart attack.

According to the Center for Disease Control, alcohol is one of the leading causes of heart problems. For more information about heart disease and statistics visit CDC’s website.