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What Are The Effects Of Alcohol On Your Heart?

  • timeline Anoush Gomes
  • 3 Min Read
  • Fact Checked

Drinking alcohol, in this day and age (and earlier of course) is a normal part of most people’s lives. A bottle of wine or a case of beer during weekends, is not something most people tend to worry about. Rarely though does one wonder what “more than a couple of drinks” can do to your heart.  In fact, some people are also keen on the fact that a careful amount of alcohol can benefit your heart. You may be wondering if that’s true, or if it’s true for everyone. This World Heart Day, we’re going to take a quick deep dive into the effects of alcohol on your heart – both the good and the bad. It will also touch upon how you should approach drinking alcohol, and how much is too much.

How does binge drinking affect your heart?

There is such a thing as moderate drinking – this means one drink or less a day for women, and two  drinks or less a day for men. The definition of one drink is set to be about 12 ounces of beer (5% alcohol content), 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol content) or 1.5 ounces of liquor (40% alcohol content). As per a few studies, low to “moderate” drinking can help raise the “good” cholesterol in your body – this is also called HDL. Furthermore, it can also prevent damage caused by “bad” cholesterol – called LDL. While we know that alcohol can make bleeding much easier, it can also help prevent clotting, which is usually the cause of heart attacks. Now, all of this does NOT mean that drinking alcohol can help prevent cardiovascular abnormalities.

The reason why is because experts have yet to make a direct correlation between alcohol and benefits to the heart. While the above effects may seem “good,” there is no proof that it is directly linked to low to moderate drinking. In fact, as we know, drinking alcohol excessively over time can become an addiction, and can also lead to other illnesses such as stomach ulcers, and of course, liver disease. But yes, increased alcohol intake can definitely affect your heart muscle, causing disease and cardiomyopathy.

Cardiomyopathy can make it hard for your heart to deliver much needed oxygenated blood to the rest of your body. This can also lead to heart failure and dangerous symptoms. Furthermore, regular alcohol binging can also lead to increased blood pressure or hypertension, which has its own negative effects on the heart. Arrhythmias or atrial fibrillation are also a concern when it comes to binge drinking. Atrial fibrillation in itself increases the risk of strokes, and heart failure.

So while we’re often told that a glass of wine a day is healthy, it’s important to understand the long term effects of drinking. While drinking, make sure to understand your tolerance for alcohol is something that decreases with age and chronic conditions. Make sure to listen to your body, and enjoy a drink or two moderately.

If you have been diagnosed with any heart conditions, it’s advisable to stop drinking. There are many ways such as improving your lifestyle and a careful diet that give you the same benefits that one glass of wine can do. 

If you have been struggling with alcoholism, speaking to a doctor can help you reduce your consumption. Not to mention, they can assess the damage done on your major organs, which will allow you to better see how binge drinking is simply not worth it. A doctor would also help you understand if at all taking alcohol is okay for you or not. Take a stand for your health, your heart makes sure it does its part every day – it’s now your turn.

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    Anoush Gomes

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