Author: James Anderson

Alcohol and Heart Health: Separating Fact from Fiction

Does Alcohol Affect The Cardiovascular

Researchers have also suggested that red wine, in particular, might protect the heart, thanks to the antioxidants it contains. Alcohol is also a known risk factor for atrial fibrillation, which is an abnormal heart rhythm in one of the chambers of the heart, the left atrium. In atrial fibrillation, rather than pump blood into the next chamber, the left atrium “quivers,” which causes blood to stagnate and swirl in one spot. These effects are hard to see when we’re drinking because we often concentrate only on the immediate outcomes of using alcohol. They are even difficult to notice the next day since some long-term effects develop slowly over time.

  1. Adjustment for possible confounders, some of which may lie in the pathway of CVD development and could be considered mediators, remains an issue in alcohol epidemiology [35].
  2. Cardiomyopathy is a known risk factor for heart failure, which is a condition where the heart muscle is weakened and cannot pump enough blood to supply the rest of the body.
  3. Experts say that for most healthy adults, a temporary increase in heart rate caused by one or two drinks is probably not something to worry about.
  4. Our clinicians are trained addiction professionals that can help treat both alcohol dependence and the underlying addiction.

Heart failure causes people to become fatigued much more easily and they often lose their ability to perform rigorous activity and exercise. A new study has found that consuming alcohol, even as little as one can of beer or one glass of wine, can quickly increase the risk of a common type of cardiac arrhythmia known as atrial fibrillation in people who have a history of the condition. Adjustment for possible confounders, some of which may lie in the pathway of CVD development and could be considered mediators, remains an issue in alcohol epidemiology [35].

Data Availability Statement

Large-scale longitudinal epidemiological studies with multiple detailed exposure and outcome measurements, and the extensive assessment of genetic and confounding variables, are necessary to elucidate these associations further. Conflicting associations depending on the exposure measurement and CVD outcome are hard to reconcile, and make clinical and public health recommendations difficult. Furthermore, the impact of alcohol on other health outcomes needs to be taken into account.

Does Alcohol Affect The Cardiovascular

High blood pressure is a key risk factor in stroke and heart attacks because it contributes to damage to blood vessels. Damaged vessels are repaired by the formation of clots, which can break off and become lodged in other parts of the body, cutting off the oxygen supply. In general, a normal resting heart rate for adults is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. With two or more drinks, the increase in heart rate was greater, and heart rates remained slightly elevated up to 24 hours later. However, the use of such an approach [45,46], which depends on several assumptions that are not easily met in a complex relationship, such as between alcohol consumption patterns and CVD risk, is highly debated [47,48,49,50]. That fourth drink at the bar may feel like it’s relaxing you, but it’s actually affecting your body differently than you might think.

If you’re not sure, make a note to tune into how much you’re having over the course of the next month or so. If it’s more than recommended, try to consciously pace your drinking to help reduce the spike in your blood pressure that excessive alcohol causes. Drinking can elevate your pulse, which isn’t a concern for most healthy adults, though those with heart rhythm problems should use caution. And if you have a history of high blood pressure, it’s best to avoid alcohol completely or drink only occasionally, and in moderation.

Ischaemic Heart Disease

A single drink had little effect on blood pressure, but when people consumed two drinks, they experienced a slight dip in their blood pressure levels in the hours that followed. When they had more than two drinks, however, they saw their blood pressure levels fall at first and then begin to climb, eventually becoming slightly elevated about 13 hours after they drank. One of the biggest is that, over time, regularly drinking alcohol can lead to addiction. Some people assume that the AHA recommendation means they can or should have an alcoholic drink every day. I suggest to the people I see in my practice that they go at least a couple of days a week without alcohol, or that they take a break from alcohol for periods of time, as a reality check to make sure they are not becoming dependent on it.

Alcohol doesn’t just affect us in the short-term with reduced inhibitions, blackouts and hangovers. It can also leave a lasting effect on the body, especially our brain, immune system and heart. Exercise can also boost HDL cholesterol levels, and antioxidants can be found in other foods, such as fruits, vegetables and grape juice. In many ways, your medical history (and present) can tell you a lot about your future with alcohol.

Due to the potential beneficial effects of alcohol consumption on some CVD outcomes, the relationship between alcohol consumption and CVDs, in particular ischaemic heart disease (IHD), is controversial and highly debated [2,3,4,5,6,7]. Epidemiological studies indicate a complex relationship between various dimensions of alcohol consumption (i.e., life course drinking patterns) and CVD outcomes. Most epidemiological studies to date have relied on a single measurement of alcohol intake at baseline. It is assumed that the self-reported drinking levels, preferably including drinking patterns, remains the same before and after the baseline measurement. For many people this is clearly not the case, and even lifetime abstainers are hard to identify [82].

A-fib can be persistent, or it can occur sporadically, with symptoms such as palpitations, shortness of breath and fatigue that last for a few minutes or hours at a time. When the episodes occur occasionally, the condition is known as paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. The authors speculated that the findings could have broader implications for healthy adults as well. Although moderate drinking is widely considered beneficial for heart health, the new research suggests that, at least in some people, it could potentially disrupt how the heart functions. Some studies have shown an association between moderate alcohol intake and a lower risk of dying from heart disease. The last thing you want is for that casual drink after work or glass of wine at dinner to negatively impact your heart health.

Health Main Menu

This is especially true when you engage in binge drinking (that’s defined as four or more drinks within two hours for women and people assigned female at birth, and five or more drinks within two hours for men and people assigned male at birth). Known alcohol risks include the threat of addiction, obesity, stroke, cancer and depression. Given the weight of the risks, the AHA cautions people not to start drinking if they do not already drink alcohol.

You need to be cautious not to fall into bad habits with alcohol, because the consequences can be severe. If you drink alcohol, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends you limit yourself to no more than an average of one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. Quite a bit of attention has been given to the fact that red wine seems to be particularly beneficial. But studies have shown that the health benefits of alcohol are generally similar among wine, beer and spirits. Atrial fibrillation, also known as A-fib, is the most commonly occurring heart rhythm abnormality, affecting an estimated three million adults in the United States. It occurs when the upper chambers of the heart, the atria, start beating irregularly, which can disrupt blood flow to the lower chambers of the heart, called the ventricles.

Some people, however, can develop heart failure from increased alcohol consumption. In addition, too much alcohol may raise your blood pressure and triglyceride levels. In a meta-analysis of 11 cohorts published in 2014, an inverse risk relationship between average alcohol consumption and IHD in patients with hypertension was reported [37]. Similar associations have been reported among people with diabetes and non-fatal myocardial infarction [38,39,40,41,42]. A recent large-scale study from the UK reported a J-curve for most CVD outcomes in patients with CVD [43].

Also, when the heart is beating faster, arteries and veins are at an increased risk for vessel damage and clot formation. But alcohol can also have pronounced effects on your cardiovascular system in the hours after you consume it, causing your heart to beat faster, at least in the short term. There is some evidence that moderate amounts of alcohol might help to slightly raise levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.

Past research has shown that low levels of alcohol may be linked to better cholesterol levels. The supposed benefit that alcohol provides to cholesterol may have been due to other factors that occur along with light alcohol consumption, including increased social interaction and more rounded diets. Alcohol decreases blood pressure while drinking, but over the next several days, the body compensates by increasing blood pressure.