Heart and Vascular

The Links Between Alcohol and Heart Disease

Sep 13 2019

There are many links between alcohol and heart disease. Your favorite alcoholic drink might be more harmful than you think. Americans lose their lives every year due to alcohol abuse, alcohol-related accidents, and the effects of long-term drinking. Drinking alcohol can also be harmful for your heart. Here’s how.

How alcohol hurts the heart

Alcohol use increases heart attack risk by 40 percent, according to Alcohol.org. This is because drinking often can damage your heart muscle and raise your blood pressure. Some drinks also have high calorie counts. Consuming more calories than your body needs opens the door to problems like obesity. Obesity also increases the risk of getting heart disease.

Dangers of binge drinking

If you have four or five drinks in roughly two hours, you’re crossing the line from drinking to binge drinking. Drinking alcohol that fast comes with a unique set of risks. Binge drinking can change your heart’s rhythm, which is called arrhythmia. People who have it may notice chest pain or discomfort.

Having six or more servings of hard liquor in a night raises your risk of having a stroke or heart attack too. In fact, the odds of having a stroke or heart attack remain higher for an entire week after binge drinking.

Who should avoid alcohol?

Everyone should do their best to limit their alcohol intake.

If you have a history of heart failure or stroke, high blood pressure or uneven heartbeats, it can be helpful to avoid alcohol. Ask your doctor about what kind of limits you should stick to.

People with diabetes should also talk to their doctors about drinking habits. Alcohol can lower your blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes, it’s better to enjoy your drink with food. You should also monitor your blood sugar before and after drinking.

Pregnant women and people with a history of alcohol abuse should avoid drinking all together. If you drink while taking certain medications, you could also put yourself at risk for issues like nausea, dizziness and even fainting. In most cases, medicine comes with a label that warns you about harmful effects that can happen when mixing them with alcohol.

Learn about the Heart and Vascular services offered at Mercy Health.

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