How Does Alcohol Affect Your Heart Health?
We know that alcohol does affect your heart health, but what needs further explaining is that the effect can be either positive or negative. The difference depends on how much you drink.
Drinking in excess negatively affects your heart and can lead to a disease of the heart muscle called cardiomyopathy, or an irregular heartbeat, a stroke and high blood pressure.
Plus too much alcohol can lead to unhealthy eating decisions, which when teamed with the empty calories in alcohol leads to weight gain. Research has shown that people consume 20% more calories when they drink alcoholic beverages (even just one) before eating. When the calories from the alcohol were added in, it ended up being a 33% increase. Excess weight can lead to a whole host of health issues by itself, besides those caused by excessive drinking.
If you already have high blood pressure, have had heart failure, have a history of stroke in your family, or have higher than normal triglycerides, you should not drink alcohol at all as alcohol significantly raises your risk for a heart-related event – none of which are good. Besides damaging your heart, it can also cause:
- liver disease
- certain kinds of cancer
- peptic ulcers
- brain damage
- death and injury from accidents
And of course, pregnant women should not drink at all. Drinking in excess can cause fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) which has been proven to cause mental retardation, central nervous system damage, growth problems, head and face deformities and behavioral problems. Because physicians don’t know at what level alcohol causes FAS, they recommend abstaining from drinking at all while pregnant.
However, moderate drinking for some people may actually help their heart. It can:
- Raise the good HDL cholesterol
- Lower blood pressure
- Stop blood from clotting in veins and arteries
- Prevent heart attacks
- Prevent damage from high LDL, the bad cholesterol
Moderate drinking is defined as one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men of the following:
- 12 ounces of beer
- 5 ounces of wine
- 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor
- 1 ounce of 100-proof liquor
Studies have shown that moderate alcohol consumption can actually reduce the risk of heart disease by 25%, which in part is caused by the increase in HDL cholesterol. Data from 84 other studies support these findings by concluding people that only had one alcoholic drink per day experienced a reduced risk of heart disease by 14-25%.
The key to reaping the positive heart health benefits from drinking alcohol is moderation and controlling the number of calories consumed while drinking Los Angeles care.