Alcohol and Heart Health


For many years, people have come to believe that moderate drinking is good for the heart. However, a new study claims the occasional glasses of wine you enjoy are not as good for your health as you think.

What is atrial fibrillation?

If you have a habit of drinking, no matter how moderate, your heart’s left atrium will grow bigger, increasing your risk of getting a stroke. Moreover, an abnormal size atrium can result in a condition called atrial fibrillation, which occurs when your heart beats irregularly. Atrial fibrillation causes the blood volume to increase in the left atrium more than it is supposed to and leading to form a clot. Over time, your clot may burst and damage the artery supplying for the brain, giving you a stroke. According to the medical records of stroke patients, courtesy of the American National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 15% of the patients had suffered from atrial fibrillation first.

Alcohol and atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is usually considered as a heart disorder. Nevertheless, Dr. Gregory Marcus (director of clinical research, University of California, San Francisco) suspects that the condition may somehow stem from physical changes in the heart, part of which caused by alcohol consumption. Atrial fibrillation may be one of genetic predisposition. People with those genetic markers will get atrial fibrillation without the help of alcohol. In those cases, even a very light drinking can make the situation worse. Although the body of evidence is not big enough to establish a cause-and-effect relationship, it is safe to say long-term drinking raises the risk of atrial fibrillation. For every 10 grams of alcohol you drink each day, your risk of getting atrial fibrillation elevates by 5%. In addition, every other 10 grams of daily consumption may enlarge the left atrium size by 0.16 millimeter. The larger the atrium is, the less efficient it becomes when handling a regular heartbeat.

This study is not meant to overthrow the good effects of alcohol that numerous studies have previously proven. The important point is to understand the specific condition of each individual before deciding on whether or not the person should drink. The optimal alcohol intake of each person depends on many factors. You should not pick up the habit of drinking just because you hear someone saying it is good. People with a family history of heart disease should take extra precautions when it comes to alcohol.

In short, even moderate drinking can be harmful to some people. If you are not so sure about it, ask your doctor for advice. Generally, alcohol does not play well with obesity, pregnancy, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart-related diseases.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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