Most people, yourself included, know the dangers of frequent alcohol consumption – not just in terms of the damage it does to the body organs, but also to your health and mortality rate.
In addition, many people know that the most affected organ is the liver, since it is doing its best to remove the toxins from alcohol but it becomes overwhelmed.
However, did you know that your heart health is affected negatively as well? You may not think of it being a major factor why you should stop turning to drinking frequently, but this is something you should know.
Effects of damage to the heart
Your heart is one of the organs that keeps you alive – literally. It continues to pump blood throughout the body, therefore playing a major role in the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the whole body, while removing unwanted products such as carbon dioxide.
When the heart undergoes damage, the negative effects spread to the blood vessels and arteries as well, causing malfunctions in the whole pumping system.
These issues are collectively referred to as cardiovascular disease and result in the death of more than 190,000 people every year.
The longer you drink excessively, the more problems you are creating for your heart. However, this will depend on several factors.
Here are some myths and facts about alcohol consumption and its effects on your heart.
The effects on the heart
Data on alcohol side effects on the heart is not much, since most of the research is on an observational basis, which also means there is no direct cause-and-effect relationship.
Alcohol has benefits when taken in moderation and only if you are over 45 years of age
Some research shows that alcohol can have benefits for your heart, as long as it is taken in moderate amounts, since it has a protective effect. Even though the data is not completely conclusive, scientists think there are two elements to this assertion.
One of them is that moderate alcohol can prevent cases of thrombosis, or clotting of the blood.
Thrombosis is a dangerous condition that can lead to clogging of the arteries, which leads to a heart attack. It minimizes the platelets becoming sticky, therefore reducing the chances of them clumping together and forming clots.
In fact, when you take small amounts of alcohol with a meal, it can minimize the sudden increase of fibrinogen, a protein the liver produces, which is responsible for clot formation when you get injured.
Another reason could be the prevention of damage to the arteries. This is because moderate intake seems to increase HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) in the blood.
This also reduces atheroma (the fatty deposits) that lead to narrow arteries and increase the chances of heart attacks and strokes.
Some health conditions can make it dangerous to drink
Drinking alcohol is not for everyone, even moderate amounts. This is because there are conditions that can make your drinking habits more dangerous to your health.
For instance, if you are taking medication to reduce cholesterol levels in your blood, you may get muscle aches when you attempt to drink.
This could be due to the work the liver is trying to do when you drink. Because the liver is responsible for removing all toxins from the body, the cholesterol medication and the alcohol will both need to go through it for the body to clear the substances.
In a sense, you can look at it as these two trying to compete with each other to see who gets cleared first.
Another possible reason could be that alcohol is comprised of sugar, so if you have a condition such as diabetes, or if you have issues with trying to regulate high triglyceride levels, then it is a better idea to avoid alcohol.
This is the reason you need to consider your overall health status and check in with your doctor if you are considering taking a glass, as they will advise you accordingly about your overall risk factors.
Hard liquor is not good for you, you are better off with red wine – but the best choice is avoiding alcohol
Some evidence exists that validates the occasional glasses of red wine you can take, because it is claimed that it is good for your heart – an even better option would be avoiding alcohol completely.
Keep in mind that it is a bad idea to begin drinking alcoholic drinks just to lower your risk of heart disease.
Your age will determine how well you can handle alcohol
Alcohol works like other drugs, because your body eventually builds tolerance towards it. However, that does not mean people of different ages will handle drinks in the same way.
Even if you have built some tolerance to alcohol, that ability changes over time. You can even notice it in older drinkers – they usually say they cannot handle it as well as they used to in their younger years.
The older you get, the greater your sensitivity to alcohol increases since the ability of the body to handle it reduces.
In addition, there is increase of vulnerability to different diseases as you grow older, so that can interfere with the efficiency of your body to handle alcoholic drinks.
Overindulgence in the substance leads to irregular heartbeats
Alcohol in moderation may be good for many people, but it is additionally important to re2member that you can experience holiday heart syndrome – irregular heartbeats due to the overindulgence of food and alcohol.
This problem can occur if you also do not consume alcohol, then you suddenly decide to binge-drink, resulting in a condition called atrial fibrillation. This can increase your chances of getting a stroke, heart attack or heart failure.
Alcohol has numerous effects on the heart, even though you may be unaware of them. It is therefore important to consume t in moderation, and also avoid it as much as you can – that decision may end up prolonging your life.