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Doctors have struggled for several years now over whether to tell their patients about the potential cardiac benefits of alcohol. Over 60 clinical studies have suggested that light to moderate alcohol consumption (the equivalent of one or two 1 � oz. drinks of alcohol per day) can increase HDL cholesterol levels (the ?good? cholesterol,) can reduce the incidence of myocardial infarction (heart attack), and may have other cardiovascular benefits.
However, excessive alcohol consumption reliably causes a number of severe and often fatal medical problems, not to mention the destructive social pathologies associated with alcoholism itself.
For all these reasons, a special advisory panel of the American Heart Association issued a formal statement urging doctors not to recommend alcohol to their non-drinking patients as a means of reducing the risk of heart disease. This makes perfect sense. If doctors were seen to be encouraging alcohol, that would not only be politically incorrect, but might also lead to a significant increase in alcohol-related medical and social problems. Still, the apparent cardiac benefits of alcohol creates something of a dilemma for doctors.
The Evidence in Favor of Alcohol
Numerous prospective studies now suggest that people who engage in light to moderate alcohol consumption have a substantially reduced risk of coronary artery disease (CAD) - by as much as 40 - 70% - compared to those who drink either no alcohol, or those who drink more heavily.
And in a large meta-analysis that included over 80 observational studies, those with light to moderate alcohol intake had a 25% reduction in death from cardiovascular causes.
People who engage in light alcohol consumption appear to have a significantly reduced risk of developing heart failure.
Light to moderate alcohol consumption may help to prevent type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome. And in people who have diabetes, it may help to protect against CAD.
Up to two drinks per day may help to protect against stroke.
How Can Alcohol Protect the Heart?
Theories as to how light to moderate alcohol consumption can benefit cardiovascular health include the following:
Alcohol increases HDL cholesterol levels
Alcohol has antioxidant activity
Alcohol increases insulin sensitivity
Alcohol may help prevent abnormal blood clotting
Alcohol in low doses has anti-inflammatory properties
While it is widely believed that red wine may have special protective properties (largely stemming from the antioxidant properties of red grapes), in fact the overall data strongly suggests that it is the alcohol itself that is cardioprotective in small doses - regardless of the particular type of alcoholic beverage consumed.
The Evidence Against Alcohol
It is noteworthy that in all the studies assessing the effect of alcohol on the heart, women who consumed more than two drinks a day, and men who consumed more than three, had a substantial increase in overall cardiovascular mortality, including sudden death. Furthermore, several studies show that binge drinking (abstaining for several days, but drinking heavily on the days when alcohol is consumed) is associated with a substantially increased risk of CAD and of cardiovascular death.
In addition, drinking large amounts of alcohol is a well-recognized cause of cardiomyopathy and heart failure. People who have more than two drinks per day have a significantly increased risk of developing hypertension. And consuming more than two drinks per day appears to significantly increase the risk of stroke.
Both heavy drinking and binge drinking increase the risk of atrial fibrillation.
The Bottom Line
It appears quite evident that the relationship between alcohol and cardiac risk follows a "J-shaped" curve. Cardiac risk is lower when low to moderate alcohol is consumed than if either no alcohol is consumed, or if higher amounts of alcohol are consumed.
The problem for professional bodies and guideline-writers, obviously, is that many, many people find it difficult or impossible to limit their alcohol to one or two drinks per day. If guidelines actively promoted light alcohol consumption for the population, there is every reason to believe that the overall result would be a negative one, rather than a positive one. So, despite all the evidence regarding the cardiovascular benefits of light alcohol consumption, you should not hold your breath waiting for guidelines (or your doctor) to recommend such a thing.
I will drink lemon water at that time, but still my bp id getting low and getting severe stomach pain.
Sir/Madam when high blood pressure occur how to make it low and which vegetable and fruit juice to be give. And which food to be given and which to avoid. To a lady Age-old-31.
I am running low pressure. 100/60. My normal pressure is 110/70. Currently I am feeling very weak and energy loss. Is it due to low pressure. I have fasting blood sugar 75. Is it the reason for weakness and loss of energy. How can I increase my blood pressure. Thanks.
I am having chest pain for more than two month, last month I consulted a doctor but did not get the relief with the medicine provided, I I feel pain only when I stretch my chest, please reply what should I do.
Hello doctor my grandfather suffered a cardiac arrest so are there any chances of me getting a cardiac arrest? And if there are any chances then what am I supposed to do to prevent it from happening? Thank you.
What are the real symptoms of having stress and high blood pressure and how to get rid from pain in head?
I have facing the problem of cysts in kidney liver ns prostate .I have to also high BP. It is found when I done CT scan of abdomen. Now doctor tell it I SD not curable.
I am feeling a stress /mild pain in my chest while have a walk for about one & half km. I am an age of 60. I have got an ecg & eco cardiography which is clear as oer my Dr. But have some mild changes in tmt second phase ie after 6 minutes of walk.
There are two primary factors that are more likely to cause a stroke in a person i.e age and a family history. While both are inevitable, this necessarily doesn’t have to be the fate of a person. Brain stroke is entirely preventable as with the case of other diseases. By working on the potential health risk factors, a stroke can be prevented. Here is a list of few such steps which, when followed can pay rich dividends to a person facing the risk of a brain stroke:
Blood Pressure: Blood pressure is the single most important factor that can increase the chance of a brain stroke. If a perfect blood pressure reading seems too difficult to achieve, a more realistic blood pressure target of 140/190 should be aimed for. Some of the common steps in order to achieve an acceptable blood pressure figure include reducing salt in the diet, exercising on a daily basis, regular intake of fresh fruits & vegetables and fast processed food containing processed fats. Finally, quitting drinking and smoking goes a long way in ensuring that a person is safe from strokes.
Losing Weight: Obesity increases the risk of diabetes and blood pressure subsequently increasing the risk of a stroke. Being overweight, therefore greatly increases the odds of a stroke. A BMI of 25 should be maintained by engaging in activities such as walking, running and playing on a daily basis.
Regular Exercise: Exercise is a clear mandate for people facing an increased risk of brain strokes. A moderate intensity exercise schedule for a minimum of 5 days per week is necessary. Some simple steps in order to achieve this include taking the stairs while climbing, joining a fitness club, 30 minutes of daily walk in a day etc.
Moderate Drink: Surprising as it may sound, moderate drinking on a daily basis can dramatically reduce the risk of a brain stroke. Red wine should be the choice of preference in this case. It should be ensured that the level of drinking does not surpass more than a glass. Regular drinking in excessive quantity can increase the chance of brain stroke.
Check For Atrial Fibrillation: This is a disease that is related to the heart due to an irregular heartbeat. There is a possibility of the clots travelling to the brain causing a brain stroke. Certain possible symptoms of this disease such as palpitation of heart and shortness of breath should be checked with a doctor to negate the chance of brain stroke. Certain blood thinners like warfarin and aspirin can shield against atrial fibrillation. A doctor has to be consulted before starting any medication related to the heart. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can ask a free question.