An Important Public Health Issue
Potential relationships of alcohol use and smoking on cardiovascular disease are of great public health importance. estimates that in 2003, over 71 million Americans had some form of cardiovascular disease, representing more than 34 percent of the United States population. In 2002, cardiovascular disease caused or contributed to more than 1.4 million deaths in the United States, representing about 58 percent of all mortality. Tobacco use is an important contributor to this burden. About 21 percent of adult Americans reported using tobacco in 2004. Although tobacco use rates generally have declined over the last 40 years, some 4,000 individuals become new regular smokers every day. Given that more than 85 percent of smokers drink alcohol, and that drinkers are 75 percent more likely to smoke than are abstainers, the public health ramifications of joint use of alcohol and tobacco may be substantial indeed.
Excessive Drinking May Lead To Heart Attack
- Moderate drinking can help promote heart health by increasing good HDL cholesterol levels, but keep that important keyword in mind moderation
- Excessive drinking, on the other hand, can have the opposite effect, increasing triglyceride levels, causing high blood pressure and even leading to the possibility of heart failure
Although having a drink can be a social occasion, alcohol is a drug and must be treated with respect. Excessive drinking is a route cause of many physical and mental illnesses and in extreme cases can cause death.
The majority of adults drink alcohol, but of course, not all people drink alcohol to excess. Alcoholism is a psychosocial disease that has many associated and complex issues. Although the actual causes of alcoholism are uncertain there are risk factors which can make a person more likely to drink to excess. Some of these risk factors can be controlled, and some we can have no control over. For example, you are at a greater risk of becoming an alcoholic if you have or had a parent who was an alcoholic.
How Alcohol Affects the Heart
Other Medical Consequences
If you think you or someone close to you may drink excessively, there are many organizations and voluntary groups that can help. Talk to your doctor and get help.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
Haemostatic And Other Factors
Although not as well described, several studies have also investigated the influence of alcohol on coagulation and thrombolytic processes., Briefly, normal haemostasis is maintained through balance between coagulation and fibrinolytic proteins. Vascular injury results in platelet aggregates that contain fibrinogen/fibrin, which can ultimately generate a thrombin. Alcohol can alter levels and interactions of fibrinolytic proteins to assist in preventing thrombosis.
In 1979, Meade et al demonstrated a positive association between alcohol consumption and fibrinolytic activity based on clot lysis time. Subsequent to the development of assays to measure the various cardiovascular markers of fibrinolytic activity,in vitro and in vivo studies have shown that alcohol affects fibrinogen levels, plasminogen activators, and plasminogen inhibitors. The effects on lowering levels of fibrinogen are the best documented and may contribute to the cardioprotective effects of ethanol. Based on the same meta-analysis by Rimm et al, fibrinogen is estimated to account for 20%30% of the CHD benefit attributed to moderate consumption., Approximately 30 g/day of alcohol decreases fibrinogen by an estimated 0.075 g/l , which corresponds to a 12.5% reduction of CHD risk. Although not nearly as substantial as the role of HDL, fibrinogen appears to be the second biggest contributor to the reduction in CHD risk attributed to alcohol consumption.
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Does Alcohol Boost Heart Health
A lot of research has focused on the link between alcohol and heart health, with conflicting results. Some studies have shown that moderate drinking — one drink a day for women and two for men — leads to lower risks of dying from heart disease. One drink generally means a 12-ounce beer, a 6-ounce glass of wine, or a 1Â½-ounce shot of liquor.
Other studies have suggested that moderate drinking can slightly raise levels of âgoodâ HDL cholesterol. And alcohol appears to cut the chances of blood clots that can lead to heart attacks and strokes, Brown says.
âIn general, alcohol is considered protective for heart disease,â Brown says. âAnd based on all the studies, thereâs really no signal that a small amount of alcohol consumed on a regular basis is harmful to the heart.â
But is it true that a little bit of drinking can help with heart failure? Not enough research has addressed this issue, he notes.
Brown co-authored one of the few studies that looked into it. It showed that people 65 and older who had heart failure and drank moderately lived an average of about a year longer than those who never drank.
As with studies suggesting that alcohol benefits overall heart health, Brown says, his research couldnât prove that it caused heart failure patients to live longer. Other factors might also have influenced the results, he says.
The Effects Of Illicit Drugs On Cardiovascular Disease
Illicit drug use may be associated with the increased risk of cardiovascular disease. A study on the need for hospitalization in approximately 4800 drug users found that 223 of these were admitted to hospital due to cardiovascular disease1. This was the fourth most common reason, exceeded only by psychoses, schizophrenia and depression respectively1. Hepatitis C is another common consequence of the abuse of some drugs19. This infectious disease has major repercussions on the hepatic system , but may be also associated with some types of cardiomyopathy2. An analysis of blood samples from 1355 patients indicated that anti-hepatitis C virus antibodies were more likely to be present in those with a history of myocarditis and heart failure20.
What Causes Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy
Alcohol abuse has a toxic effect on many of your organs, including the heart. The toxicity of alcohol damages and weakens the heart muscle over time. This makes it difficult for your heart to pump blood efficiently. When it cant pump out enough blood, the heart starts to expand to hold the extra blood. This causes the heart to become thinned and enlarged. Eventually, the heart muscle and blood vessels may stop functioning properly due to the damage and strain.
To make a diagnosis, your doctor will perform a physical examination and ask you about your medical history. You may also need some laboratory tests and X-rays.
Lessons From The Russian Natural Experiment
Despite the limited evidence that alcohol consumption and tobacco use interact directly to cause or exacerbate cardiovascular disease, the example of the Russian transition from Soviet State to independent nation hints at the extraordinary harm that these substances can potentially produce in combination when consumed in excess, at least during periods of social upheaval . Between 1990 and 1994, male life expectancy in Russia declined by an almost unimaginable 6.1 years, coinciding with a 35.7 percent increase in overall mortality rates. Although information on cause of death often is incorrect, alcohol-related causes and injuries alone appeared to account for 29.4 percent of this increase, while heart disease and stroke accounted for another 33.4 percent. Both alcohol use and tobacco imports rose sharply during that period, while other aspects of diet did not clearly deteriorate . The juxtaposition of the steep increases in alcohol and tobacco use with the marked increase in cardiovascular mortality provides circumstantial evidence that, at least at the extremes, these two substances may interact to precipitate cardiovascular disease with alarming rapidity.
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Reduce Your Risk Of Hypertension
Hypertension is one of the most preventable alcohol-related problems. Drinking less alcohol lowers your blood pressure.
Reducing the amount you drink can help you lose weight. This is also good for heart health.
Hypertension causes most problems when its left untreated. Get your blood pressure checked regularly so that you can get treatment if you need it.
Your GP or pharmacist can check your blood pressure.
Is Red Wine Healthy
Small amounts of alcohol may have a protective effect on your heart health, according to some research.
Of all the alcoholic drinks, red wine is considered the most healthy. Red wine contains antioxidants which may help to protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart.
A 2019 research review links drinking red wine with a lower risk of coronary heart disease. However, research to date does not prove a cause-effect relationship.
People who drink red wine may have other healthy habits, for example eating healthily and not smoking.
So, we cant say conclusively whether it is red wine itself that reduces heart disease risk, or other related factors. More research is needed.
The best we can say is that, as part of a mediterranean diet, red wine may have some heart health benefits. It is a healthier choice than other alcohol.
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Alcohol And High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is a term that describes the amount of force placed on the vessels that carry blood from the heart to various parts of the body. When the heart beats, these vessels experience something called systolic pressure. When it rests, they experience something called diastolic pressure. A blood pressure reading combines systolic measurements with diastolic measurements. Cases of high blood pressure can occur as a result of high systolic readings, high diastolic readings, or a combination of high systolic and diastolic readings.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that anyone who binges on alcohol can develop at least a short-term spike in average blood pressure levels. Longer-term heavy drinking can produce lasting increases.
Two Factors Help Explain These Realities:
- First, excessive alcohol intake promotes the release of natural stress hormones that reduce the amount of space inside the bodys blood vessels.
- Second, alcohol can narrow blood vessels by activating tiny muscles contained in the vessel walls.
Treatment Options For Alcohol Abuse And Addiction
Overcoming alcohol abuse or addiction is rarely an easy feat. Luckily, there are several treatment options available for individuals struggling with an alcohol use disorder. Vertava Health has several treatment facilities that offer personalized plans of recovery for those looking to reclaim their lives from alcohol addiction.
To learn more about how alcohol can affect the heart or to explore addiction treatment options, contact an Vertava Health treatment specialist today.
This page does not provide medical advice.
Can Alcohol Cause A Heart Attack
Drinking more than three servings of alcohol per day leads to a level of toxic substances in the blood that directly increases the risk of heart attack. Alcohol abuse increases the lipids in the blood, which is a type of fat that can harden arteries, increasing cholesterol and arterial plaque.
While moderate drinking may reduce the risk of heart attack for some people because of some relaxing effects, drinking too much, too often will increase the risk of cardiovascular damage, including a deadly heart attack, in anyone.
It Boosts Your Good Hdl Cholesterol Levels
One of the ways low to moderate wine drinking heart health is by boosting HDL cholesterol levels. Light to moderate drinking can raise good HDL cholesterol. Red wine is thought to be particularly beneficial as it can boost HDL while its polyphenols have been linked in some studies to help lower harmful, small dense LDL particles that are known to be drivers of coronary artery disease. In one study reported in the journal Circulation, 14 subjects participated in an alcohol trial, keeping all other dietary and lifestyle factors constant. The results found that daily moderate alcohol intake increased HDL cholesterol by an average of 18%, compared to when the subjects abstained from alcohol.
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Alcohol And Heart Health
Available research about the effects of alcohol on this organ is conflicting. For the individual, the way these studies measure alcohol consumption varies, so it is hard to compare the points of view that use different methods.
Generally, information about the rate of consumption in such studies is based on self-reports. The quantification of how much should be considered one drink is measured between 12 to 15 grams of alcohol content. However, these figures tend to vary between studies, and this variation contributes to the conflicting reports from studies about the relationship between alcohol and heart disease.
While some studies assert it can only be bad for ones health, others reveal the opposite. However, delving deeper into this research will show that the effects of the substance on heart health are strongly dependent on the amount of alcohol consumed.
Bearing this in mind, one may surmise that moderate drinkers are more likely to experience the benefits of drinking, such as an increase in HDL levels in the body. In contrast, heavy drinkers are more likely to experience the side effects of the substance. It is essential to point out that drinking is not the only way to increase the bodys levels of good cholesterol, so it should not be the sole reason for doing it.
To emphasize the impact of the quantity of liquor consumed on the effects of alcohol in the body, it should be admitted that heavy drinkers are more likely to experience heart problems.
Do You Need To Stop Drinking
Alcohol may be a popular casual drink, but it is still a drug. If someone suffers from alcohol use disorder , quitting alcohol must be a priority. Alcohol can cause several long term health issues, in addition to some of the personal challenges that come from the disorder. Please review the linked description of alcohol use disorder, and if you need help, review this link for treatments and resources.
If you are not struggling with alcohol addiction, cutting out drinking is more of a personal choice. Your panic attacks wont go away completely if you cut out alcohol, although reducing your consumption may well reduce the frequency and intensity of your panic attacks, and those that quit drinking altogether may find that they feel better overall.
Alcohol is a drug like any other, and anything that affects your body like alcohol does has the potential to contribute a great deal to your panic attacks and anxiety more generally. For this reason, those that have panic attacks should strongly consider avoiding alcohol wherever possible.
Whether or not you drink, your panic attacks need to be addressed separately. Cutting out alcohol will help you cope better, and should reduce the likelihood of experiencing a panic attack, but it wont stop them altogether. In order to truly take control of your panic attacks, you should make efforts to treat the underlying anxiety thatâs causing them in the first place.
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What Cardiovascular Diseases Can Alcohol Cause
Your heart muscle needs oxygen so it can keep pumping. A heart attack is when an artery supplying oxygen to the heart muscle is reduced or cut off completely, preventing the heart muscle receiving oxygen. The blood flow to the heart can be blocked due to a gradual build up of plaque, fat and cholesterol that cause a narrowing of the coronary arteries.Alcohol consumption can raise the levels of fat in the blood. People with high triglycerides often have high levels of bad cholesterol and low levels of good cholesterol. High levels of bad cholesterol can clog arteries and if a piece of plaque breaks off, a clot forms and a heart attack can result.
Alcohol consumption can increase the risk of two types of strokes occurring. Both result in a disrupted blood flow to brain tissue, and can result in a loss of motor and sensory functions. A stroke can also damage other systems in the body including the skeletal, muscular, respiratory, digestive and urinary systems. 29
This is when an artery supplying blood to the brain tissue is blocked. This blockage can result from a clot that has formed in the artery or from a foreign body that has broken off that becomes lodged in the artery, blocking it.30
Alcohol increases the risk of ischemic stroke because it can:
This results from an artery supplying brain tissue, tearing and bleeding.31
How Is Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy Treated
The first step of treatment is to stop drinking alcohol completely. Your doctor can help to prevent you from having symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Youll also need to make adjustments to your diet and lifestyle. Your doctor may suggest that you:
- follow a low-salt diet
- take diuretics to increase the removal of water and salt from your body through urination
- limit how much fluid you drink to ease pressure on your heart from fluid retention
Your doctor might prescribe ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers to help lower your blood pressure. If your heart is severely damaged, your doctor may recommend an implantable defibrillator or pacemaker to help your heart work.
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Heavy Drinking May Cause Heart Damage Before Symptoms Appear
Heavy drinking could lead to heart tissue damage even before concerning symptoms arise, according to a new study.
The results back previous studies that have shown too much alcohol intake can increase the risk of heart failure, high blood pressure, heart attack, arrhythmias, stroke and death.
“By measuring the level of certain molecules in the blood, we were able to find that heavy drinkers are much more likely to have heart damage than people who drink less heavily,” study author Olena Iakunchykova said in a news release. She is a candidate in community medicine at the University in Tromsø, The Arctic University of Norway.
In the study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Associationresearchers examined blood samples from 2,525 adults ages 35-69 from 2015 to 2018. Nearly all the participants were from the general population of Arkhangelsk, a city in northwest Russia. The remaining 278 participants were being treated for alcoholism at a local psychiatric hospital.
Researchers categorized adults based on their self-reported consumption, defining heavy drinking as: having six or more drinks on one occasion feeling hungover or drunk needing a drink first thing in the morning having lives disrupted because of drinking or having a family member or loved one concerned about the drinking.
Blood samples were tested for proteins and hormones that indicated three types of problems: heart injury, stretching of the heart wall and inflammation.