Alcohol is one of the most addictive substances yet it is considered legal in most countries because of its apparent relative harmlessness in comparison with illicit drugs, such as cocaine and heroin. But, according to our cardiology experts, it is also one of the unhealthiest substances consumed by men and women with its effects seen in both the short-term and long-term periods.
Said health effects include its impact on heart health. Here are a few questions about the relationship between alcohol consumption and heart health that every person who drinks alcoholic beverages, such as beer, whiskey and wine, should know.
What Are the Cardiovascular Risks?
While drinking alcohol especially red wine in moderate quantities can be beneficial for your health, excessive alcohol consumption increases the risks for a wide range of cardiovascular diseases. These include:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Heart failure
- Heart attack
- Cardiac arrhythmia
But that’s not all. Excessive alcohol consumption can also increase the risks for several types of cancer, such as breast, stomach and liver cancer, as well as obesity, accidents and suicides. Indeed, there is nothing good to be had with binge alcohol drinking regardless of the type of alcoholic beverage consumed, the frequency of drinking, and the amount of alcohol consumption.
There’s also the fact that there is no accurate way to predict the onset of alcoholism in people. The American Heart Association then cautions people to stop drinking or to avoid drinking alcohol in excess of the recommended amount for good health.
What Is the Best Amount?
Each person has a different definition of “drinking in moderation” but the health experts say that an average of 1 drink each day for women and 1-2 drinks each day for men is the healthy limit. Keep in mind that a drink is equivalent to:
- 12 ounces of beer or;
- 4 ounces of wine or;
- 1.4 ounces of 80-proof spirits or;
- 1 ounce of 100-proof spirits
If you go over the limit, you will not only increase your risks for the short-term effects of alcohol, such as dizziness, nausea and hangover, but also for the abovementioned cardiovascular risks and, hence, premature death. Think about it whenever you are tempted to show your family and friends your large tolerance for alcohol in your system.
What About Red Wine?
Many studies have shown that the consumption of red wine on a moderate basis can increase the heart’s health. Red wine appears to be rich in heart-healthy chemical compounds, such as antioxidants, flavonoids, and resveratrol, which increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels and the anti-clotting properties of the blood. These chemical compounds are believed to prevent the platelets from sticking together (i.e., clotting), thus, reducing the risks for heart attacks and strokes.
But doctors do not recommend drinking red wine to reduce the risks for cardiovascular diseases either. Keep in mind that a healthy diet, moderate exercise, and sensible lifestyle habits are still the foundation for good heart health. You should also avoid drinking any alcoholic beverages when you have an underlying medical condition without consultations with your doctor.
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