How does Alcohol Affect the Heart?

How does Alcohol Affect the Heart?

How to drink alcohol without causing any health issues has always been a debate. You can eat a healthy diet, be physically active, and sleep well, but you never know how your alcohol intake affects your health if it is unchecked. 

There is a close association between alcohol drinking and heart health. Let’s look at how these two are related.

Can Alcohol Damage the Heart?

The simple answer to this is yes. Excessive alcohol intake is harmful to your overall health. It can damage your blood vessels, heart, brain, and liver. It can also increase your risk of developing cancer, especially liver cancer. 

Additional effects alcohol has on the heart include the following.

  • Excessive alcohol drinking can derange lipid profile leading to a high level of bad lipids like cholesterol in the blood. This cholesterol can deposit in the walls of the blood vessels and narrow them. The narrowing leads to a decreased blood supply to the heart that can eventually lead to a heart attack.
  • Cholesterol deposition in the blood vessels, also known as atherosclerosis, can also lead to high blood pressure due to narrow passages and decreased flexibility. This high blood pressure can put an extra load on the heart leading to heart disease.
  • Heavy alcohol drinking is also associated with cardiomyopathy. This occurs due to the direct toxic effect of alcohol on the heart muscles. Diseased heart muscles cannot pump the blood through the body efficiently.
  • Binge alcohol intake at a time can interfere with normal cardiac rhythm. It can increase the heart rate that can precipitate an arrhythmia. Arrhythmia is a life-threatening condition.

How Much is Harmful?

As mentioned above, excessive alcohol intake is a cause of many diseases. However, people can enjoy alcohol in moderation without damaging the heart and overall health. Recommendations have been made about the allowed limit of alcohol intake per day. According to the dietary guidelines, men should consume two standard drinks or less per day while women should consume one standard drink or less. A standard drink is equal to 14 grams of pure alcohol. The amount of alcohol may vary in different drinks, so pay attention to what alcohol you consume.

Considerations while Drinking Alcohol

Tailor your alcohol intake to your health conditions

  • If you have a history of heart disease, you should avoid drinking even in moderation.
  • If you have some liver disease, you should not drink.
  • Pregnant women should not drink at all.
  • If you have diabetes, beer is not a good choice and can raise your blood sugar level.
  • Alcohol can interact with some medicines, so always discuss it with your doctor.

Talk to your physician about alcohol consumption. Your doctor will ask you during checkups to make sure you are keeping consumption to recommended levels.

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