The Impact of Alcohol on Heart Health:The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Impact of Alcohol on Heart Health: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

People around the world enjoy drinking alcohol, and it has been a part of human culture for a long time. While drinking a little bit can be good for you, drinking too much can harm your heart and overall health.

It’s essential to know the positive and negative effects of alcohol on your heart so you can make intelligent choices. Drinking moderation can help reduce your heart disease and stroke risk, improve cholesterol levels, and help you live longer. 

But drinking too much can raise your blood pressure, harm your heart muscle, and make you gain weight. Long-term heavy drinking can lead to serious health problems like heart failure, cardiomyopathy, and irregular heartbeats. Knowing how alcohol affects your heart is crucial for keeping your heart healthy and avoiding serious health issues.

How Much is “Moderate Drinking?”

Alcohol and heart health have an acceptable relationship if a person drinks moderately. But how much is “moderate”? Women should have one drink a day, and men should have two. Below are the daily limits for each type of alcoholic drinks: 

  • 12 fluid ounces, like a beer can
  • Wine should be about 4 – 5 fluid ounces.
  • A 1.5 fluid ounce bottle of 80-proof spirits

How alcohol is absorbed and metabolized in the body determines its effects, so moderation varies depending on sex and age. Seniors have a slower metabolism of alcohol than young adults, so alcohol will have a longer-lasting impact on them. Alcohol absorption also varies depending on height and weight. The faster alcohol is absorbed into the system, the smaller and lighter you are. Some races and ethnicities have trouble digesting alcohol. Despite low doses, the effects are magnified.

The Good: Benefits of Alcohol on Heart Health

Meanwhile, alcohol has been linked to better heart health. Moderate drinkers have a lower risk of heart disease because their High- density lipoprotein  increases and plaque buildup in their arteries decreases, according to the American Heart Association. Also, alcohol thins your blood a little, so platelets don’t clump together.

Age plays a significant role in whether you get these benefits.

If you drink moderately, you might reduce your risk of heart disease. Younger people, on the other hand, don’t get much health benefit from even moderate drinking. When drinking begins at a young age and is more likely to lead to abuse later in life.

The Bad: Harmful Effects of Alcohol on Heart Health 

Many studies support that moderate drinking has health benefits, but most are observational, collecting information from volunteers.

There’s some evidence that moderate alcohol consumption lowers your risk of heart problems like hypertension, coronary artery disease, heart attacks, and stroke. But these studies only show a correlation between heart health and alcohol, not a causal relationship.

Two new studies also question the direct benefits of alcohol on heart health, arguing that moderate drinkers are more likely to engage in other behaviors that reduce cardiac risk factors. These include: 

  • Exercising regularly
  • Smoking cessation
  • Eating healthier

According to Munson Healthcare’s Traverse Heart & Vascular cardiologist James Fox, MD, FACC, both studies show that alcohol doesn’t increase cardiovascular health.

Also, the following can be exacerbated by excessive alcohol consumption:

  • Blood pressure
  • Triglycerides
  • Risk of developing atrial fibrillation
  • Risk of having a stroke

The Ugly: Long-Term Effects of Alcohol on the Body

A high-risk drinker is someone who consumes more than three drinks a day or more than seven drinks a week, while a high-risk drinker is someone who takes more than four drinks a day or more than 14 drinks a week. People who consume four or more alcoholic drinks in two hours are considered binge drinkers.

There is a correlation between excessive alcohol consumption and a variety of adverse health issues, such as:

  • Breast cancer, along with oral, pharyngeal, esophageal, and liver cancers
  • Pancreatitis
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Hypertension
  • Illnesses affecting the liver
  • Suicide
  • Serious harm or fatality caused by an accident
  • Congenital malformations, including brain damage
  • Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal

It is also known that alcohol impacts aging, especially among women. Compared to men, women tend to be less hydrated and fattier. Because alcohol is diluted by water and retained by fat, its concentrations in women’s organs will be higher for extended periods. The alcohol-degrading enzyme dehydrogenase is also less abundant in women.

Should You Avoid Alcohol? 

One should not necessarily avoid alcohol. Alcohol provides potential benefits to the heart, however, one must drink alcohol safely.  It’s important to find the right balance. Drinking in moderation is the key. However, the amount of alcohol that’s safe for you may depend on your health and other factors. Consider talking to your doctor about drinking before you do if, for instance:

  • Pregnant or at least trying to conceive.
  • You have a history of alcoholism in your family or have been diagnosed with alcoholism or alcohol addiction.
  • You have suffered a hemorrhagic stroke.
  • Both your liver and pancreas are weak.
  • You’ve been diagnosed with heart failure or have been told you have a weak heart.
  • You are currently taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs that can interact with alcohol.

Final Thoughts

Consuming alcohol in measured amounts can have beneficial effects on one’s cardiovascular health. It is well known to raise the level of good cholesterol that is found in the body as well as reduce the building of plaque in the heart. However, these benefits will still differ from person to person depending on factors such as gender, age, and the current state of their health. However, alcohol use is also discouraged by a number of medical professionals as a potential treatment for heart conditions.

On the other hand, alcohol consumption can be an integral component of one’s social life for certain individuals. However, if you are struggling to limit your drinking to no more than once a day, Sunnyside can assist you by providing you with challenges, tips, and an approach to sober living that is low-pressure and relaxed. When you are initially learning to pace yourself, figuring out what motivates you, and developing a strategy, having support can be really useful. Users are given a platform within the Sunnyside app on which they may establish and keep track of  their alcohol and weekly objectives and challenges. You have a full 15-day trial without incurring any costs.




Related posts

Aging Skin: Issues, Remedies, and Treatments


Exploring the Benefits of Art Therapy in Mallorca


Dealing with Acne in Your Teens


Leave a Comment