What Alcohol can do to your heart

Alcohol can be toxic to the heart muscle. Alcohol can cause the heart muscle to be weakened, and can cause you to develop congestive heart failure in people who drink excessively.

We have been told that if we drink alcohol in moderation that it may have health benefits for our hearts. The truth is that for some people drinking even a moderate amount of alcohol can cause them to be at greater risk of atrial fibrillation. Many people have an increase in their blood pressure when they consume even a small amount of alcohol. Women are more likely to be adversely affected by drinking alcohol so it is suggested that women have no more than two alcohol drinks per day and that men consume no more than three.

For some people drinking small quantities of alcohol each day could help improve their cholesterol levels, and may even place them in a lower risk group for heart failure, or coronary artery disease.

What many people do not realize when they hear these studies are that as we age the effects that alcohol will have on our hearts will change.

Alcohol and the Aging Heart

A recent study was done to try and determine the effects that aging has on the way alcohol affects the heart. The study used data gathered on four thousand four hundred and sixty six individuals who were over the age of 65 when they began the study. The researchers followed the medical conditions of these individuals for ten years.

For the purpose of the study, the group of seniors was divided into four categories. There were:

  1. People who did not consume any alcohol
  2. People who drank less than seven drinks in a seven day period
  3. People who consumed between seven and fourteen drinks in a seven day period
  4. People who consumed fourteen or more drinks each week

The Results of the Study

The results of the study showed that the individuals who consumed more alcohol had an increase in the size of their heart cavities. This increase can put tension on the muscle and cause the heart to work less efficiently.

The men who drank more alcohol often had heart muscles that were thicker than normal. The thicker heart muscle caused the men to have increased heart rates and develop more cases of heart failure than the people who drank less.

The women who drank more alcohol had hearts that pumped out less blood than the women who drank less, or drank no alcohol.

Both the men and women who drank more alcohol had more cases of atrial fibrillation because the upper chambers of their heart were enlarged.

The individuals who drank more than fourteen drinks each week had higher blood pressure readings than the other participants.