How Does Alcohol Abuse Affect Your Heart Health?

Alcohol Abuse – Could it Damage your Health?

While experts believe that drinking alcohol is OK in moderation, excessive drinking can seriously affect your health and well-being. One of the primary risks is its effect on your heart health.

According to the American Heart Association, drinking in moderation means no more than two drinks per day for men and one for women. A “drink” refers to either one 12-ounce beer, one 4-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor. The highest health risks come with heavy drinking (more than three drinks on any day or more than seven drinks a week for women and for men older than age 65, and more than four drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks a week for men younger than age 65) and binge drinking (four or more drinks within two hours for women and five or more drinks within two hours for men).

Dangers of Drinking Too Much Alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol raises the levels of triglycerides, or fats, in your blood. This can lead to serious, sometimes fatal complications and for your heart health, including high blood pressure, heart failure, stroke, heart disease, and arrhythmia. In addition, the calories in alcohol can lead to obesity, which contributes to these heart problems as well as to other illnesses, such as cancer and diabetes.

Although moderate alcohol use is safe for most people, there are some individuals for whom even a minimal amount of drinking can be harmful. This is true for people with a personal or family history of alcohol abuse, liver disease, diabetes, or pancreatitis. In addition, if you have an existing heart problem, including heart failure, cardiomyopathy, high blood pressure or cholesterol, irregular heart rhythm, or previous heart attack or stroke, you should not drink. And if you’re on prescription medication, alcohol can cause negative interactions when consumed along with your medication. Talk with your doctor to make sure that it’s safe to drink if he or she has prescribed you any medication.

Some studies have shown a positive link between consuming red wine and lowering cholesterol, largely due to the antioxidants present in red wine. While drinking wine is fine in moderation, too much can lead to the health complications described above. There are other ways to lower your cholesterol that have a more positive overall effect on your health, such as exercising regularly and eating a nutritious, balanced diet.

In addition to its effects on heart health, there are other negative health effects caused by alcohol abuse. Drinking too much raises your risk for depression, some types of cancer, liver disease, and death or injury from automobile and other types of accidents. For women who are pregnant, drinking alcohol can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, a serious complication for your infant.

If you worry that you have a problem with alcohol abuse, talk with your doctor. He or she can recommend resources that can help you stop drinking and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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