Alcohol is a drug that impacts the heart and blood vessels, which can lead to serious health problems such as stroke or heart attack.
It also increases your risk for other conditions, including cancer.
What Are Some Risks Associated With Drinking Too Much Alcohol?
If you drink too much alcohol, it can cause many health issues, including the following:
- High blood pressure
- Liver disease
- Kidney damage
- Birth defects
- Memory loss
- Sleep disorders
Alcohol And Cardiovascular Disease
Alcoholic beverages are known to affect the cardiovascular system by causing hypertension (high blood pressure) and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
These two conditions are major contributors to coronary artery disease (CAD), which is the leading cause of death among men and women in the United States.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting consumption of alcoholic beverages to no more than one drink per day for men and no more than one drink every other day for women.
This limit applies only if you do not have any underlying medical condition that would make drinking harmful to your health.
The Effects Of Alcohol On Your Body
Alcohol has been used medicinally for thousands of years.
In fact, wine was first discovered when archaeologists found traces of fermented grapes in an Egyptian tomb dating back to 6500 BC.
In modern times, however, scientists have begun studying the effects of alcohol on the human body.
They have learned that alcohol acts like a depressant on the central nervous system, which makes people feel relaxed and sleepy.
It also causes dehydration because it reduces fluid intake.
Although alcohol may seem harmless at low levels, there are several dangers associated with consuming large amounts of it.
For example, excessive alcohol use can cause heart failure, liver failure, brain damage, and even death.
What Cardiovascular Diseases Can Alcohol Cause?
One of the most common side effects of heavy alcohol use is atherosclerosis, which occurs when plaque builds up inside the walls of your arteries.
Plaque build-up narrows the arteries and restricts blood flow through them.
As a result, cholesterol-rich plaques form along the inner wall of the artery. These plaques eventually harden into deposits called arterial calcification.
Over time, these hardened areas can block the flow of blood through the arteries. This can ultimately lead to a heart attack or stroke.
High Blood Pressure
Another effect of heavy alcohol use is high blood pressure. When you consume alcohol, your blood volume decreases, which puts extra stress on the heart.
If you already have high blood pressure, this increase in stress could trigger another episode of elevated blood pressure.
Heavy alcohol use can also contribute to heart failure.
A person who consumes alcohol heavily over a long period of time will likely develop fatty changes in his or her liver.
These changes can eventually lead to cirrhosis of the liver, which is a serious illness characterized by scarring and inflammation.
If your liver fails, it cannot process toxins such as acetaldehyde, which is produced during alcohol metabolism.
Acetaldehyde damages the lining of the small intestine, which allows bacteria to enter the bloodstream and produce endotoxins.
Endotoxins are toxic substances that can cause inflammation throughout the body, including the heart.
If you already suffer from heart failure, then the additional strain on your liver caused by alcohol consumption could worsen your symptoms.
Finally, heavy alcohol use can be dangerous because it increases your risk of cardiac arrest.
During a cardiac arrest, your heart stops beating, and your blood begins to pool in your veins instead of circulating around your body.
This condition can be fatal if not treated quickly. To avoid cardiac arrest, make sure to drink plenty of water while drinking alcohol.
Also, try to stop drinking alcohol before bedtime so that you do not fall asleep while intoxicated.
Does Alcohol Cause Increased Stress Levels?
Yes. Drinking too much alcohol can actually increase anxiety and depression.
People who drink heavily often experience mood swings and feelings of sadness. Alcohol also affects the way your brain works.
Your brain uses chemicals called neurotransmitters to communicate with other parts of your body.
Alcohol interferes with how the brain produces certain types of neurotransmitters.
For example, alcohol reduces the amount of serotonin (a type of neurotransmitter) released in the brain.
Serotonin helps regulate emotions and behavior. It may take several days for your brain to recover from an alcohol binge.
In fact, some people say they feel worse after their first drink than after subsequent drinks.
The bottom line: It’s best to limit your intake of alcohol to no more than two drinks per day, or abstain entirely if you are suffering from addiction.
What Are Some Ways That You Can Reduce Your Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease?
There are many ways that you can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
For example, you should maintain a healthy weight, eat a balanced diet, get regular exercise, quit smoking and control your cholesterol levels.
You can also help prevent cardiovascular disease by following these tips:
Get Enough Sleep Each Night
Sleep deprivation has been linked to obesity, hypertension, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, insulin resistance, and increased stress hormones.
Eat A Well-Balanced Diet
Eating a nutritious diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry, nuts, beans, and legumes can help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Regular physical activity improves your overall health and lowers your risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Smoking causes atherosclerosis, which is one of the main reasons why smokers have higher rates of cardiovascular disease.
Manage Your Diabetes
Diabetes is another major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Managing your diabetes will improve your quality of life and help keep your blood pressure under control.
Control Your Cholesterol
Cholesterol is essential for good health, but elevated cholesterol levels put you at greater risk for cardiovascular disease.
Talk to your doctor about managing your cholesterol through diet and lifestyle changes.
Why Do I Have A High Blood Pressure When I Drink Alcohol?
If you have high blood pressure when you drink alcohol, it could mean that you have developed a tolerance to its effects on your blood vessels.
Tolerance means that your body becomes accustomed to the effect of alcohol.
If you develop a tolerance to alcohol, you might be able to tolerate drinking more than you did before.
However, this doesn’t mean that you won’t suffer any negative consequences as a result. Tolerance develops over time.
If you’ve had a few alcoholic beverages, then you’re likely to experience less of a drop in blood pressure when you stop drinking.
However, if you continue to consume alcohol even though you know that it increases your blood pressure, then you’ll probably notice a larger drop in blood pressure when your last drink is finished.
This is because your body has become used to the alcohol’s effects. Alcoholic beverages contain a chemical called acetaldehyde.
Acetaldehyde builds up in your bloodstream after you drink alcohol.
Over time, your liver produces enzymes that break down acetaldehyde into harmless substances.
But if you don’t produce those enzymes, then acetaldehyde stays in your system longer.
The build-up of acetaldehyde in your bloodstream may cause your blood vessels to constrict or narrow.
As a result, your heart pumps harder to move blood around your body. Your blood pressure rises.
The amount of acetaldehyde that accumulates in your bloodstream depends on how much alcohol you drink.
It also depends on whether you drink regular or light beer, wine, or liquor.
To conclude, alcohol affects the heart by increasing the force with which your heart beats.
Drinking too much alcohol can increase your chances of developing coronary artery disease, heart failure, and other problems related to your heart.