Drinking Alcohol and Heart Disease
How much alcohol is “safe” to drink on a daily basis?
For some, no amount of alcohol is safe to take in. It is highly addictive and, as tolerance level increases, control decreases.
Alcohol’s Affect on the Heart
Numerous studies suggest that moderate alcohol consumption helps protect against heart disease by raising HDL (good) cholesterol and reducing plaque accumulations in your arteries. Alcohol also has a mild anti-coagulating effect, keeping platelets from clumping together to form clots. Both actions can reduce risk of heart attack but exactly how alcohol influences either one still remains unclear.
On the other hand, drinking more than three drinks a day has a direct toxic effect on the heart. Heavy drinking, particularly over time, can damage the heart and lead to high blood pressure, alcoholic cardiomyopathy, (enlarged and weakened heart), congestive heart failure, and stroke. Heavy drinking puts more fat into the circulation in your body, raising your triglygeride level.
That’s why doctors will tell you “If you don’t drink, don’t start”. There are other, healthier ways to reduce your risk of heart disease like eating right, getting regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight.
What’s “Moderate Drinking” for one may be legally drunk for another. By nature’s design, a woman’s body metabolizes alcohol differently so that 1 alcoholic beverage in a woman is equal to 2 in a man. Alcohol remains in a woman’s body longer than in a man’s. Also, the older you are, the less efficient the body can metabolize alcohol.
Many states have revised their drunk-driving laws and 0.08 percent is considered to be intoxicated. Women, especially women of small stature, must be alert to these laws and metabolic differences when drinking, and limit their alcohol intake accordingly.
Other Medical Consequences of Alcoholism
Studies show that alcoholics have a worse outcome after undergoing surgical procedures. The reasons for this are not entirely clear. Poorer outcomes may be attributed to a poorer general state of health with malnutrition and the depressant effects of alcohol. Binge drinking (consuming large amounts of alcohol infrequently, such as on weekends) places one at risk for atrial fibrillation which may also be a factor in surviving surgery. Still another factor is that heavy drinking affects the body’s ability to stop bleeding. A liver damaged by alcohol has trouble making clotting proteins.
Alcohol interacts with many drugs – both prescription and non-prescription. Mixing alcohol with your medicine can lead to serious untoward effects.
Alcoholism increases risk of cancers, including breast cancer, lung cancer and cancer of the liver.
Long-term heavy use of alcohol destroys the cerebellum of the brain, causing irreversible brain damage and resulting in slowed thinking, an unsteady walk and slurred speech.
Alcoholism contributes to many diseases, including hepatitis, cirrhosis, malnutrition, pancreatitis, stomach ulcer, fetal alcohol syndrome and heart disease, just to name a few.
Bottom line don’t drink alcohol because it can kill you!