Knowing the Facts About Heart Health and Alcohol

With all the news about the variety of impacts of alcohol on heart health, determining what is healthy and what isn’t can be difficult. Read on for some important facts about the effects of alcohol on your heart.

New studies focusing on the effects of alcohol on overall heart health have yielded some important insights. While long-term heavy drinking tends to significantly damage the heart and other vital organs, drinking within prescribed guidelines is unlikely to cause any ill-effects. Some studies even suggest that for some groups, limited amounts of certain types of alcohol may actually be beneficial for the heart.

However, exceeding low-risk drinking guidelines by any amount can quickly cancel out any potential benefits, and instead cause harm. Understanding alcohol’s impacts on the heart is critical for promoting responsible use, and a healthy lifestyle.

Healthy Hearts, Damaged Hearts: What They Do

The heart is a major organ responsible for pumping oxygen and nutrient-rich blood through our bodies, and carrying out carbon dioxide and other waste. Fully functioning healthy hearts help ensure a good energy level, ease of breath, and strong circulation throughout the limbs.

Coronary heart disease occurs when there is a build-up of fat inside the arteries, which slows the flow of blood, and therefore oxygen and nutrients, to the heart. This condition can also lead to blood clots, which can contribute to blockages in the blood supply.

When blood can no longer flow to the heart muscle, it may pump ineffectively or stop altogether. When the heart ceases pumping, this is known as a heart attack, which can be fatal.

Heart Disease and Drinking: How Are They Related?

Heavy drinking results in increased blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes. It also weakens the heart muscle, causing a condition known as cardiomyopathy. The weakened muscle can’t pump blood as effectively, and can result in premature death due to heart failure.

Binge drinking places unique stress on the heart, causing an irregular heartbeat which often makes people feel out of breath. Additionally, rapid changes in blood pressure can increase the risk of a cardiac episode.

Healthy Hearts and Alcohol

Current research suggests that limited amounts of alcohol can have a protective effect on the heart, particularly for women over the age of 45. While the exact way that alcohol does this has yet to be determined, scientists believe it is related to alcohol’s role in preventing artery damage.

Alcohol seems to raise the level of ‘good’ cholesterol in the blood, which reduces the formation of fatty deposits that cause arteries to narrow. Additionally, alcohol reduces the stickiness of platelets in the blood, which can help prevent blood clots.

Despite the potential benefits, no researchers recommend relying on alcohol to promote a healthy heart, as the risks of alcohol consumption still outweigh the positive effects.  Exercise, eating a healthy diet and managing stress are widely accepted as more effective and less risky ways of maintaining a strong heart.

Taking the Research to Heart: Getting Help for Alcohol Misuse

For more information on the specifics of heart disease and the role of alcohol in cardiac health, please see the full article here.

If you’re concerned about the impact your alcohol intake may be having on your heart, Thailand offers an extensive choice of luxurious and affordable rehab facilities delivering world-class residential treatment programmes. Contact us to learn more about Thailand’s premier rehabs, and how one could help you.