Alcohol is a “depressant,” which slows down the brain’s regulation of your body. Even a tiny amount of alcohol can affect critical physiological processes like speech and movement. Drinking alcohol in large quantities in one go might cause your respiration and heart rate to be dangerously low. Consuming alcohol regularly can cause cardiovascular disease. Regular drinkers may believe that alcohol doesn’t impact them as much. But this usually indicates that they have grown a tolerance to some of the effects.
Does drinking alcohol damage my heart?
There is a direct correlation between excessive alcohol consumption and high blood pressure. The heart muscle is strained over time by high blood pressure (hypertension). Which can result in cardiovascular disease (CVD), raising your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Regular consumption of alcohol can cause cardiovascular disease. Regular drinkers who exceed the lower risk thresholds are often advised to cut back or give up alcohol entirely.
How can drinking alcohol causes cardiovascular disease and harm your heart?
The cardiovascular system includes the heart and blood arteries.
The heart pumps blood through these arteries, capillaries, and veins to transport it throughout the body. Alcohol, which enters the bloodstream through the stomach and small intestine, will be carried by the blood to all body parts.
The cardiovascular system perceives the effects of alcohol as a result. Alcohol use may temporarily raise blood pressure and heart rate at this moment. Long-term effects of drinking more than is recommended include continuously elevated heart rate, high blood pressure, weakening heart muscle, and irregular pulse. All these raise the chance of a heart attack or stroke caused by alcohol.
What cardiovascular diseases might alcohol cause?
Your heart muscle requires oxygen to continue pumping. When an artery that supplies oxygen to the heart muscle is reduced in size or entirely blocked, the heart muscle is deprived of oxygen and experiences a heart attack. A slow accumulation of plaque, fat, and cholesterol can restrict the coronary arteries and obstruct blood flow to the heart.
Blood fat levels can rise as a result of alcohol and can cause cardiovascular disease. High amounts of bad cholesterol and low levels of good cholesterol are typical in people with high cholesterol. Harmful cholesterol levels that are too high can block the arteries. And if a piece of the plaque breaks off, clot forms and a heart attack may occur.
The drinking of alcohol can raise the likelihood of two types of strokes. Both cause a disruption in blood flow to brain tissue, leading to a loss of motor (movement) and sensory (touch, temperature, feelings) functions. A stroke can also harm the body’s other systems, such as the skeletal, muscular, respiratory, digestive, and urinary systems.
This type of stroke occurs when an artery supplying blood to brain tissue becomes clogged. This obstruction can result from a clot forming in the artery or as a foreign body (e.g. a fat globule).
Alcohol raises the chance of having an ischemic stroke since it can:
- Cause a clot to lodge in a blood vessel in the brain due to irregular heartbeat and heart muscle weakening.
- High blood pressure can cause a foreign body, such as plaque, to break off and enter the bloodstream, which can lodge in a blood artery in the brain.
- Increase the amounts of fat (bad cholesterol) in the blood, and a stroke can occur if a clot forms in a clogged artery.
Hemorrhagic stroke (stroke with haemorrhage)
This type of stroke is caused by a rupture and haemorrhage of an artery supplying brain tissue.
Because it causes high blood pressure, alcohol raises the risk of a hemorrhagic stroke. High blood pressure can cause weak points in artery walls, particularly in the brain, increasing the likelihood of bleeding due to the force of the high pressure.
What Is an Adequate Amount of Alcohol?
It’s debatable whether moderate drinking is good for your heart. However, it does not appear to be damaging to the heart in most people—but the critical word here is “moderate.”
Moderate drinking is defined as one drink per day for women and one or two drinks per day for men. A drink could be as little as 12 ounces of beer, 4 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits.
Some people should avoid drinking altogether if they have specific heart rhythm disorders or heart failure.
Isn’t there some advantage to drinking alcohol?
Overall, the hazards exceed the potential advantages.
The most current data reveals that the benefits of drinking alcohol for heart health are fewer and apply to a narrower population than previously thought. In the UK, the only group that may benefit overall is women over 55, and even then, only at modest drinking levels—roughly five units per week or less.
There is no reason to begin consuming alcohol if you do not already. No drink can be proven to be “better” than another, such as red wine or beer.
I suffer from a cardiac condition. Should I avoid consuming alcohol?
If you already have a condition that causes arrhythmias, drinking alcohol may make it worse. Alcohol would be especially harmful to people who have hereditary heart rhythm problems.
Heavier drinking (binge drinking) can also cause your first episode of arrhythmia; once this happens, you’re at a higher risk in the future.
When you quit or limit the quantity of alcohol you drink, your blood pressure will quickly improve (you should see a reduction within a few days).
Avoiding drinking can result in improvement or even recovery if you have alcoholic cardiomyopathy.
A message from the Heartscope Specialist Group
The takeaway is reasonably apparent: if you choose to drink alcohol, keep it to modest amounts and don’t overdo it.
If you are still concerned about how alcohol consumption harms your health and relationships, please consult your primary care physician, cardiologist, or one of Heartscope Specialist Group’s highly skilled experts.