Everyone knows that drinking heavily over a long time can cause serious health issues. Apart from causing immediate effects such as nausea and vomiting, prolonged heavy drinking can lead to a drastic impact on various organs of the body. Its effect on the heart is a major cause of concern since it can lead to fatal consequences like a heart attack or a stroke.
Heart is primarily composed of blood vessels and arteries running in and around it, which pump blood to the other organs of the body. Any damage to these structures can disrupt the working of the heart, resulting in cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Although there are multiple factors that can cause CVD, alcohol consumption is one of the most prominent one.
A recent study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, suggested that alcohol abuse increases the risk of atrial fibrillation, heart attack and congestive heart failure as much as other well-known risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes.
Drinking may up risk of atrial fibrillation
Heart diseases are the most common causes of death in men and women globally. The current study conducted by American College of Cardiology highlighted the relationship between excessive alcohol intake and the risk of developing heart ailments, even without any underlying factors.
For the study, the researchers analyzed the database of all California residents aged 21 years and older, who received ambulatory surgery, emergency or inpatient medical care in the state between 2005 and 2009. Of the 14.7 million people reviewed, 1.8 percent, or nearly 268,000 people, were diagnosed with alcohol abuse. Taking into account other risk factors, the researchers found alcohol abuse to be associated with a twofold increased risk of atrial fibrillation, a 1.4-fold increased risk of heart attack and a 2.3-fold increased risk of congestive heart failure. “Completely eradicating alcohol abuse would result in over 73,000 fewer atrial fibrillation cases, 34,000 fewer heart attacks, and 91,000 fewer patients with congestive heart failure in the United States alone,” observed the study.
Refuting all previous claims that moderate quantities of alcohol can help prevent heart attack and congestive heart failure, the researchers said that even low to moderate levels of alcohol consumption can increase the incidence of atrial fibrillation.
Effect of heavy drinking on heart
Studies have shown that excessive alcohol drinking is directly linked with high blood pleasure, which is one of the main risk factors for heart attack or stroke. Alcohol intake is associated with weight gain, which also leads to the development of heart conditions. Drinking alcohol over a prolonged period disrupts the functioning of the heart by weakening its muscles. The condition is called cardiomyopathy and can be life-threatening.
Binge drinking is also observed to cause irregular heartbeats. The tendency is largely associated with the holiday heart syndrome (HHS) wherein a person experiences critical symptoms of a heart attack, including severe pain in the center of the chest.
Leading an alcohol-free life is not difficult
Regular drinking may result in high tolerance for alcohol, pushing people to drink more to experience the same feeling of high to be relieved from day-to-day stress. This in turn may result in a dependence on alcohol, thus necessitating immediate treatment.