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Heart Problems - How Can Alcohol Worsen Them?

Reviewed by
Dr. (Prof.) Anil Sharma 85% (10 ratings)
MD - General Medicine, DM - Cardiology, Advanced Fellowship in Complex Angioplasty, FACC, MSCAI, FAPSC, DSC, FWSIM
Cardiologist, Mumbai  •  24 years experience
Heart Problems - How Can Alcohol Worsen Them?

You must have heard this very often that drinking alcohol can lead to heart problems or even heart attack, but you might not be sure how this is exactly explained. There is no doubt that consuming anything in excess can lead to serious health issues. Interestingly, experts invariably mention that a drink or two every day keeps your heart healthy and can even prevent stroke from occurring. So how does this gel with the conclusion that alcohol is not good for your heart? 

It starts with pre-existing conditions
Before one even considers this question of excessive alcohol consumption, the more critical issue is there are certain categories of people who should not go anywhere near a bottle of the liquor. These are:

  • Diabetics
  • Those with known conditions of high BP
  • People who have already suffered strokes or have heart-related issues
  • Those having high triglycerides
  • Those already consuming certain medications for any condition not related to above
  • You can add pregnant women to this as well as people who are already obese

In the case of these people, the risk of alcohol consumption is high and as far as possible they should avoid drinking any alcoholic liquor. The difficulty that arises in most cases is people are not aware that they could carry some of these conditions, and they would be merrily enjoying their evening drinks or even a weekend binge. These could be quite dangerous for their health. In the last category listed above, alcohol might react adversely with some drugs and if the person is taking the drugs regularly, it puts her directly in the line of risk of heart failure.

The effect of alcohol on your system
The chemistry part of this is explained that alcohol can directly impact the individual’s blood pressure. It tends to increase as the person keeps drinking over and over. Simultaneously, there is an increase in certain fats in the bloodstream. Indirectly, these fats could lead to obesity and that could precipitate disorders like diabetes.

Apart from this, there is sufficient evidence to link excessive drinking to life-threatening diseases like cancer, peptic ulcers and serious deficiencies in the liver that can lead to fatality. So from every perspective, consumption of alcohol of any concentration, meaning whether it is beer or wine or the harder forms like whisky and rum, the risk to the heart is real and for those with prior conditions, the damage to the health could only get hastened.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
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