Anyone who has experienced alcohol abuse first hand knows how heartbreaking it can be. The emotional and relational damage left in its wake is devastating. Did you know this “heartache” is more than figurative?
Believe it or not, the abuse of alcohol can literally break hearts. Here’s how:
Alcohol vs. The Heart: Alcohol Wins
From minor harm to fatal injury, alcohol abuse can destroy the heart and its systems. The following list details the possible effects of alcoholism.
- Cardiomyopathy (a Broken Heart): Myopathy = a disease of muscle tissue. Cardio = heart. Alcohol abuse weakens the heart muscle. This means it can no longer contract as it should to pump blood throughout your body. As a result, your other organs don’t get the blood they need for healthy functioning and suffer severe damage too. Cardiomyopathy can cause fatigue, breathing difficulties and even lead to heart failure.
- Arrhythmia: Your heart relies on an internal pacemaker to keep it pumping at the right speed. Alcohol interferes with this pacemaker, causing the heart to beat too quickly or irregularly. This is called an arrhythmia. It can cause blood clots, dizziness, unconsciousness, heart attack, or even sudden death. Binge drinking can cause sudden arrhythmia, and chronic drinking can change the pattern of your internal pacemaker and create arrhythmias over time.
- Constriction of Blood Vessels: When we are stressed, our bodies release hormones that constrict our blood vessels. Consuming alcohol triggers the release of these same stress hormones. It also affects the muscles in our blood vessels. As a result, our drinking constricts our blood vessels, elevating blood pressure.
- High Blood Pressure: Large amounts of alcohol raises blood pressure to unhealthy levels. If you drink more than three alcoholic beverages in one sitting, your blood pressure is temporarily increased. Repeated binge drinking results in long-term increases.
Additional Heart Risks
Remember: High blood pressure is the result of your heart working overtime to pump blood throughout your body. The result of all that pressure is a strained heart, strained blood vessels and potential organ failure.
- Stroke: When your blood cannot reach your brain, you suffer a stroke. High blood pressure, arrhythmias and cardiomyopathy often lead to strokes.
- Thrombocytopenia (Deficiency in Blood Platelets): Consuming alcohol slows your production of platelets. If your platelet count drops too far, it can cause internal bleeding.
Additional Reading: When Does a Moderate Drinker Turn into an Alcoholic?
Image Source: Shutterstock