Top 10 Surprising Effects of Alcohol on Your Heart
Add alcohol to your list of things that can harm your heart health because its consumption is linked to many health problems.
If you enjoy a drink or two on a regular basis, it’s essential to have a clearer understanding of the relationship between alcohol and heart health.
This article will look at the top 10 effects of alcohol on the heart and how you can prevent them from happening to you. Of course, using alcohol tracking apps can help you stay mindful of your consumption as well.
Understanding What Alcohol Does To The Heart
Excessing drinking or binge drinking has several potential risks. These include:
Increases Blood Pressure
Alcohol can increase blood pressure by stimulating the nervous system, which causes the blood vessels to constrict and the heart to beat faster. This can lead to an increase in blood pressure.
It can also damage the walls of the blood vessels, making them less flexible and more narrow. This can further increase blood pressure, as the heart has to work harder to pump blood through the narrowed vessels.
Additionally, excessive alcohol consumption leads to Liver disease, sleep apnea, weight gain and obesity, risk factors for high blood pressure.
Disrupts Heart Rhythm
Regular alcohol consumption can increase the risk of arrhythmias and other heart rhythm disturbances. Here’s how:
- Drinking too much can interfere with the electrical impulses that control the heartbeat, leading to an irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia.
- Alcohol can cause the heart to beat too fast or too hard, known as tachycardia, and can be dangerous for people with underlying heart conditions.
- Cardiomyopathy can also develop over time, increasing the risk of arrhythmias and other heart rhythm problems.
Weakens Heart Muscles
Alcoholic cardiomyopathy makes the heart muscle weak and thin, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood effectively. This can lead to the following:
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling in the legs and ankles
- Irregular heartbeat.
Alcohol impairs the function of nitric oxide synthase, a protein responsible for producing nitric oxide. This molecule helps to regulate blood flow and protect the heart from injury. Without it, the heart may get inflamed.
When alcohol inhibits nitric oxide synthase, it increases the levels of inflammation in the heart. In addition, alcohol also damages cells in the coronary artery endothelium, which can lead to increased blood pressure and heart disease.
Leads To Heart Attacks And Strokes
Even small amounts of alcohol can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Alcohol is the leading cause of death in the US, by up to 41%. And moderate drinking can lead to coronary artery disease and stroke while harming the heart and brain vessels—.Even occasional drinking increases chronic disease risk.
Lowers Blood Oxygen Levels
Alcohol dehydrates the body, decreasing blood flow and oxygen levels in the body. This can significantly diminish heart function and increase risk of heart disease. Moreover, alcohol can also cause liver problems, including cirrhosis. Finally, it can also increase your risk for other chronic health conditions, such as obesity and type II diabetes.
Speeds Up The Aging Process
Drinking too much too often can lead to oxidative stress in the body, damaging cells and tissues and contributing to aging. This can result in visible signs of aging, such as wrinkles and other age-related health conditions.
Alcohol impacts aging in the following ways:
Damages Cells And Tissues In The Body
One way alcohol can impact aging is by causing damage to cells and tissues in the body, which can accelerate the aging process. It accelerates the production of free radicals, which are molecules that can harm cells and contribute to aging.
Halts Regeneration Of Cells And Tissues
Alcohol consumption can lead to oxidative stress, an imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the body’s ability to detoxify them. ROS can damage cells and tissues and impair their regenerative ability, contributing to aging. Additionally, alcohol can affect the immune system, which is vital for regenerating cells and tissues.
Impact Quality Of Sleep
Restful sleep is essential for maintaining good health and slowing the aging process. Chronic alcohol use can disrupt the sleep cycle, leading to poor sleep and daytime fatigue, negatively impacting overall health, including the heart and well-being.
Raises Risk Of Hepatic Cancer
Heavy drinkers who develop alcoholic hepatitis are at a greater risk for hepatic cancer later in life, even if they stop drinking alcohol entirely.
The liver breaks down alcohol into metabolites that the body can use for energy. But alcoholism can damage the liver, so these processes become overloaded and form cancerous tumors.
Interferes with Medications
Drinking regularly can interfere with the way medications affect your body and heart.
Here are some examples:
- Blood pressure medications: Alcohol can increase blood pressure, making it harder for medications like beta-blockers or ACE inhibitors to do their job.
- Cholesterol-lowering medications: Alcohol can interfere with the metabolism of some statin drugs, reducing their effectiveness.
- Antiarrhythmic medications: Alcohol can make it more difficult for drugs that regulate heart rhythm to work correctly.
- Blood-thinning medications: Alcohol can interfere with the blood’s ability to clot, disrupting effectiveness of medicines like aspirin or warfarin.
- Medications for heart failure: Alcohol can exacerbate the symptoms of heart failure, making it challenging for drugs to manage the condition.
Alcohol consumption can lead to poor decision-making. This can increase your risk of heart disease, such as engaging in risky behaviors like smoking or overeating.
Avoiding The Adverse Impact Of Alcohol
You can do a few things to ensure your heart is safe:
- Never binge drink.
- Try moderation if drinking socially.
- Get water or another clear beverage instead of alcohol.
- Avoid drinking on an empty stomach.
- Speak with a healthcare provider if you have concerns about drinking.
- Use apps like Sunnyside to track down your alcohol intake.
While some studies have suggested that moderate alcohol intake may protect against heart disease, excessive drinking can increase the risk of various cardiovascular conditions.
Additionally, the influence of alcohol on heart health depends on factors such as age, gender, and overall health status. Ultimately, it’s essential to be mindful of your alcohol consumption. By making informed decisions about alcohol use, you can help protect your heart and maintain optimal cardiovascular health.