Drinking alcohol can harm the heart. This is particularly true with excessive drinking behaviors, such as binge and heavy drinking. These can increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
The effect of alcohol on cardiovascular health is complicated. However, evidence suggests an association between consuming alcohol and problems with the cardiovascular system.
Previous research indicated a potential link between moderate drinking and certain heart benefits. However, newer research suggests that drinking alcohol in any amount could be harmful.
Read on to learn more about the effect of alcohol on heart health.
Adrenaline has a significant effect on the cardiovascular system in that it causes arterioles to constrict and tighten. Arterioles are small blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart. Consequently, this increases blood pressure and the amount of blood pumped out of the heart.
Other ways alcohol affects the body to increase blood pressure
- activating the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS), which helps regulate blood pressure
- impairing the function of the lining of blood vessels, known as endothelial dysfunction
- causing vasoconstriction, which is the narrowing of blood vessels
High blood pressure damages the arteries over time, making them less elastic and stretchy. As the severity of the damage increases, it increases a person’s
Read on to learn more about alcohol and blood pressure.
These conditions are:
For some groups of people, the guidelines advise avoiding drinking alcohol altogether. These groups include:
- pregnant people
- anyone under the age of 21 years
- anyone who is taking medications that could interact with alcohol
- people with health conditions that alcohol can affect
- anyone with a condition that prevents them from controlling how much they drink
U.S. standard drink sizes
Alcohol by volume (ABV) is a measure of how much alcohol is in a given drink. Drinks with a higher concentration of alcohol have a higher ABV. The size of a serving — as set by the Department of Agriculture — depends on how strong that drink is. As the ABV increases, the serving size decreases.
Standard U.S. drink sizes
- 12 ounces (oz) of 5% ABV beer
- 8 oz of 7% ABV malt liquor
- 5 oz of 12% ABV wine
- 1.5 oz of 40% ABV (or 80 proof) distilled spirits
Read on to learn more about ABV.
It is important to note that there is
Historically, some studies suggested that when people drank alcohol moderately, they experienced protective cardiovascular benefits. However, researchers now argue that scientists
Instead, factors that coincided with moderate drinking, such as favorable lifestyle choices and, in some cases, the socioeconomic environment, were responsible. As such, evidence instead suggests that drinking alcohol in any amount can be harmful.
Newer research indicates that drinking alcohol, even within the recommended limits, could
It is best for people with heart conditions to avoid alcohol or, at the very least,
The recommended limits outlined in the
|Heart-related condition||Medication||Reaction with alcohol|
|angina (chest pain) and coronary heart disease||• isosorbide|
• nitroglycerin (Isordil)
|• rapid heartbeat|
• sudden change in blood pressure
|blood clots||• warfarin (Coumadin)||• internal bleeding|
• blood clots
• heart attack
|high blood pressure||• quinapril (Accupril)|
• verapamil (Calan)
• hydrochlorothiazide (Capozide)
• doxazosin (Cardura)
• clonidine (Catapres)
• irregular heartbeat or changes in heartbeat
|high cholesterol||• lovastatin and niacin (Advicor)|
• lovastatin (Altocor)
• rosuvastatin (Crestor)
• atorvastatin (Lipitor)
• lovastatin (Mevacor)
|• liver damage|
• flushing and itching (relating to niacin only)
After a person undergoes heart surgery, it is best to ask the doctor how much they should drink, as this could depend on individual circumstances and medical history.
Drinking alcohol can harm the heart. According to