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Are you looking for an answer to the most frequently asked question, i.e., how Does Alcohol Affect The Heart?
Alcohol consumption is a significant centre of debate across the arena of the medical field, as its excess is often associated with several health problems.
There are studies in the past that support moderate alcohol consumption, and some of these also suggest that people who drink alcohol in a controlled manner are likely to have slightly more health benefits than those who don’t.
However these studies are not an indication to go behind the habit of drinking for health benefits, as in the case of alcohol consumption, it cannot be inferred that the benefits outweigh the risk factors.
Tip to keep the heart healthy: Take control of your portions during the meals of the day and eat mindfully.
However, binge drinking is the focal concern, especially concerning your cardiovascular health.
So, now the real question is, how does alcohol affect the heart? Let’s figure this out.
1. How Does Alcohol Affect The Heart? All You Need To Know
Moderate drinking cannot be equated to health benefits. Still, particularly when alcohol consumption turns into something called binge drinking, this is attributed to the adverse effects of alcohol on the heart.
Alcohol affects the heart in these ways:
- It affects the cardiovascular system.
- A Rise in heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Weakening of heart muscles
- Irregular heartbeat
- Heart diseases due to alcoholic consumption
Tip to keep the heart healthy: The salt intake must be taken care of. Excessive salt intake can lead to high blood pressure.
1.1. How Does Alcohol Affect the Cardiovascular System?
The cardiovascular system is the coordinative mechanism of the heart and blood vessels.
The coordination of the system is maintained when the heart pumps out blood. This mechanism of blood flow is carried by blood vessels through the network of arteries, capillaries, and veins.
The blood plays a central role in supplying nutrients to all the parts of the body. This makes the organs receive the nutrient demand appropriately.
Similarly, it delivers alcohol, which gets absorbed into the bloodstream via the stomach and small intestine.
This affects the body’s cardiovascular system in several ways and, in severe cases, can also become one of the reasons behind cardiovascular disease in an individual.
Tip to keep the heart healthy: Be physically active. Mild exercises also add to the health of your heart.
1.2. Rise In Heart Rate
Heart rate denotes the number of times the heart beats or frequency of heartbeats in a minute. Heavy alcohol consumption can tremendously increase the heart rate.
Heavy drinking habits can also cause tachycardia. What is tachycardia?
Tachycardia is a problem of increased heart rate. Primarily, tachycardia results from the disruption of electrical signals responsible for producing a heartbeat.
An increase in heart rate and tachycardia can also result in blood clots. As a result, blood clots can cause significant heart diseases, including heart attack and stroke.
Tip to keep the heart healthy: Quit smoking if you wish to keep your heart healthy.
1.3. High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure refers to the force exerted by the blood against the walls of the blood vessels. High blood pressure is related to the increased force pumped through the arteries with which the blood is pumped.
Regular consumption of alcohol can raise blood pressure and become the reason for high blood pressure or hypertension.
High blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack and stroke because it hardens and thickens the arteries.
Tip to keep the heart healthy: Avoid eating junk food frequently and in large amounts.
1.4. Weakening Of Heart Muscles
The human heart plays a central role in blood circulation in the body by generating pressure and ensuring that blood flows in one direction.
This depends on the contractions of the heart muscle layer. A healthy heart muscle is known as myocardium, whereas a damaged heart muscle is called cardiomyopathy.
Heavy drinking can medically lead to the adverse condition of alcoholic cardiomyopathy.
In dilated cardiomyopathy, the heart muscles weaken, enlarging the four chambers of the heart, which becomes the reason for the weakening of contractions.
If the contractions weaken, the heart becomes incapable of pumping as per the needs of the body, which can result in congestive heart failure.
Tip to keep the heart healthy: Maintain a healthy body mass index.
1.5. Irregular Heartbeat
Arrhythmia is the change in the heart rhythm that can occur due to changes in the heart’s electrical system. These changes in the electrical system happen by blocked signals, abnormal pathways, irritable heart cells, stimulants, and various medicines.
The concern associated with arrhythmia is that it can become the reason for cardiac arrest and stroke.
Alcohol consumption can give rise to acute cardiac rhythm disturbances.
Excessive drinking alcohol can lead to a medical condition of heart rhythmic disturbances known as atrial fibrillation.
This is also known as holiday heart syndrome because people on weekends or holidays consume alcohol in more quantities. This syndrome is prevalent after such holidays.
Tip to keep the heart healthy: Prioritize your sleep to keep your heart healthy.
2. Heart Diseases Due To Alcohol Consumption
Heart disease has become one of the prime areas of focus in the medical arena. With increasing alcohol addiction, more and more people are coming under the grip of heart disease.
2.1. Heart Attack
Anatomically, the heart muscles need oxygen to perform the mechanism of pumping efficiently. The disruption of this process is the core of heart attacks.
When an artery supplying oxygen is reduced or gets cut off, the heart muscles cannot receive oxygen. This is why heart attack occurs.
The blood flow to the heart can also be blocked due to the slow accumulation or generation of plaque, fat, and cholesterol. Coronary arteries can also be narrowed because of this build-up.
It is a proven fact that alcohol can raise fat levels in an individual’s blood.
Ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes are the two kinds of strokes that can come if one indulges in heavy drinking.
Excessive alcohol consumption can distort the flow of blood to brain tissue. It can also lead to loss of motor and sensory functions.
A stroke can be extremely severe to many systems of the body. These systems can include the most important systems like skeletal, muscular, respiratory, digestive, and urinary systems.
3. Other Health Problems Due To Alcohol Consumption
Unwanted effects of alcohol are not just visible on the heart, but in various ways, alcohol can be harmful to the health, adversely affecting the overall health of the body:
- Binge or heavy drinking can lead to liver disease.
- One can also experience digestive problems due to heavy alcohol consumption.
- Excessive alcohol use can also develop the possibility of cancer of the breast, throat, mouth, oesophagus, voice box, colon, liver, and rectum.
- If one drinks too much alcohol regularly, the chances of weakened immune power increase in that individual.
- Alcohol consumption can also lead to loss of memory power.
- Depression and anxiety, being at the top of the list of mental health problems, are also evident in many addictive alcoholics.
4. Alcohol Abuse: A Major Social Problem
Alcohol abuse has emerged as a major social problem. Excessive indulgence in the trap of alcoholism has spoiled the peace of many families across the globe.
There are many who drink and drive and thus end up losing their lives or getting severe injuries, creating havoc of concern.
Violence and sexual abuse are also followed by excessive addiction to alcohol use. These have hit hard on the social environment.
Young and older adults who get involved in uncontrolled alcohol use can go through phases of dreadful mental issues and become the victims of depression, which ultimately negatively affects their own lives.
Alcoholic consumption, thus, in many ways also harms the tranquillity of social life.
5. Say No To Alcohol Abuse: For Your Heart, For Your Health, For Your Life
Health is the gem of your life. It is precious and valuable. Taking care of it should not be just a part of life, but the most important part of life.
Many people distort this notion in the clutch of excessive alcohol consumption without understanding and realizing how it affects heart health and poses health risks to the body.
Heart disease, heart failure, stroke, and heart attack can become one of the alarming consequences of heavy drinking.
It is highly significant to know how much alcohol can be safe for your health. Moderate drinkers are the ones who put their health at the forefront and then put forward their affection for alcoholic drinks.
Never let any addictive habit overpower your health. Your health is far more crucial than anything that might give temporary pleasure but can end up exploiting your health.
Your health matters; take care of it for the best!
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Q1. What Are the Symptoms of Alcohol on the Heart?
Alcoholic cardiomyopathy can present with signs and symptoms of heart disease. Patients may present with dilated cardiomyopathy and systolic dysfunction. Symptoms include gradual dyspnea, and orthopnea / paroxysmal nocturnal apnea.
Q2. Can I Drink Alcohol With Heart Failure?
Kenneth Mukamal, a professor of medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston who studies heart disease and drinking, says there is little scientific evidence that light or moderate drinking can make your condition worse for people with heart failure.
Q3. Is Whisky Bad for Your Heart?
The health benefits of whiskey are associated with low to moderate amounts. Over time, heavy drinking can lead to chronic diseases and other health problems. The heart benefits of whiskey come in small doses. Excessive alcohol use can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease