ALCOHOL & HEART DISEASE
Is alcohol good for the heart?
Despite misleading headlines and on the whole, the answer is no.
Regularly drinking too much alcohol:
Is a frequent cause of abnormal heart rhythms.
Is one of the most common causes of reversible high blood pressure (hypertension).
Is responsible for about one-third of all cases of non-ischaemic dilated cardiomyopathy (in layman’s terms that means damage to the heart muscle which can lead to cardiovascular disease) which increases risk of heart attack.
And alcohol markedly increases the risk of stroke.
Conversely, it is now well established that alcohol-induced hypertension resolves within two to four weeks of abstinence (or substantial reduction of intake).
Alcohol also causes weight gain that in turn can be bad for the heart. It is highly calorific and has little nutritional value. This coupled with its intoxication effects can lead to a loss of will power to eat healthily and often leads to cravings for unhealthy foods. The same is true of hangovers.
While there is some research to say that alcohol is good for the heart, this has only proven true for a very small group. The British Heart Foundation suggest women over 55 drinking at low levels i.e. less than 5 units a week might benefit, but that is by no means the majority.
Reduction in alcohol consumption, even in moderate drinkers, can be beneficial.
So, just how healthy is your heart?
Public Health England (PHE) is calling for adults across the country to take a free, online Heart Age Test, which will provide an immediate estimation of their ‘heart age’. If someone’s heart age is higher than their actual age, they are at an increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
You can visit British Heart Foundation for more information on keeping your heart healthy.