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Home » Alcohols Impact on Blood Pressure: What You Should Know

Alcohols Impact on Blood Pressure: What You Should Know

Moderate drinking — one drink a day for women and two for men — appears to protect some people against heart disease. An enlarged heart (cardiomegaly) can be caused by damage to the heart muscle or any condition that makes the heart pump harder than usual, including pregnancy. Heart damage and certain types of heart disease can cause an enlarged heart. Sometimes short-term stress on the body, such as pregnancy, can cause the heart to get larger. Depending on the condition, an enlarged heart may be temporary or permanent. In patients exhibiting chronic alcohol use, other causes of dilated cardiomyopathy need workup.

alcohol and enlarged heart

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Contact your healthcare provider if the medicine they prescribed for you is causing issues. Enlarged heart treatment focuses on managing the condition that’s causing cardiomegaly. Your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to treat any underlying heart conditions. The most common cause of an enlarged heart is coronary artery disease (which can lead to a heart attack). This forces the heart to work harder to pump blood to the rest of the body.

alcohol and enlarged heart


Common findings in alcohol studies from the 1970s and early 1980s included decreases in mitochondrial indices that reflected mitochondrial state III respiration, or ADP-stimulated respiration (Pachinger et al. 1973; Segel et al. 1981; Williams and Li 1977). The latter changes in these indices could be brought about by ethanol-induced imbalances in the reducing equivalents nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide hydrogen (NADH), an important chemical pathway involved in oxidative stress. In cardiomyocyte mitochondria as well as other mitochondrial types, such imbalances could lead to further decreases in cellular respiration and oxidative phosphorylation. Data from transgenic animal models and pharmacologic approaches strongly support a role for ethanol-induced oxidative stress in CV disease. In addition, there was no evidence of nitrative damage in mice bred to disrupt (i.e., knock out) the gene for angiotensin I receptor (AT1-KO) that had been given ethanol for a similar length of time (Tan et al. 2012). Both experimental approaches also prevented accumulation of ethanol-induced scarring (collagen and fibronectin); apoptotic cell death; and changes in the size, shape, and function of the heart after injury to heart muscle (ventricular remodeling).


Alcohol can cause a person to consume extra calories, which can lead to weight gain and may also lead to hypertension, a risk factor for heart disease. This serious condition, which doctors sometimes refer to simply as heart failure, can result in an enlarged heart, shortness of breath, and palpitations. Figure 3 summarizes the potential mechanisms underlying the cardioprotective and adverse effects of alcohol consumption. This area of research was briefly outlined here; more comprehensive reviews on these mechanisms are available (Krenz and Korthuis 2012; Mathews et al. 2015). Though an enlarged heart may not go away, most people are able to manage the condition well with the right treatment.

High levels of triglycerides in the blood have therefore been linked to atherosclerosis, heart disease, and stroke. Some of the potential cellular changes related to ethanol consumption reviewed above are illustrated in figure 5. More than one cellular event may be happening at the same time, and, as with other chronic health conditions, the relevant mechanisms may be synergistic and interrelated. Researchers have found evidence of mitochondrial dysfunction or impaired bioenergetics related to alcohol consumption. This is not surprising, because mitochondria are a major target for free-radical injury.

  • Regular or high alcohol use can hurt your heart and lead to diseases of the heart muscle, called cardiomyopathy.
  • Vascular wall oxidative stress also is a key mechanism in ethanol-induced HTN.
  • Most likely, the decrease in contractility was offset by corresponding decreases in afterload (end-systolic wall stress), systemic vascular resistance, and aortic peak pressure, which maintained cardiac output.
  • The use of carvedilol, trimetazidine with other conventional heart failure drugs have been proven to be beneficial in some studies.

A study in a rat model using an alcohol dehydrogenase transgene that results in elevated levels of acetaldehyde demonstrated a change in calcium metabolism at the intracellular level and a decrease in peak shortening and shortening velocity. This was interpreted by the authors as suggesting that acetaldehyde plays a key role in the cardiac dysfunction seen after alcohol intake. Others have suggested that an acute decrease in mitochondrial glutathione content may play a role in mitochondrial damage and implicate oxidative stress as a contributor in this process. Chronic alcohol consumption can cause multi-organ damage including myocardial dysfunction.

The earlier you receive care, the better your chances for a positive outcome. Many disease processes can cause the heart to dilate due to problems with the underlying heart muscle. In these cases, despite the heart Top 5 Advantages of Staying in a Sober Living House being bigger, its function actually worsens. Coronary artery disease, the most common cause of cardiomegaly, happens to many people. It affects an estimated 18 million people aged 20 and older in the United States.

alcohol and enlarged heart

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However, if alcoholic cardiomyopathy is caught early and the damage isn’t severe, the condition can be treated. It’s very important to stick with the treatment plan and to stop drinking alcohol during recovery. Other studies have shown that regularly drinking two or more drinks a day is linked to a 30 percent higher risk of atrial fibrillation, the researchers wrote. Although there is little research into the effects of moderate drinking on the risk of CHF, Johns Hopkins cardiologist Steven Jones, M.D., suggests that preventing other heart problems by adopting a healthy lifestyle is key. Research indicates that heavy drinking can damage the structure and function of the heart before symptoms occur.

Adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle are key to avoiding heart conditions and the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Too much alcohol can raise blood pressure and weight, increasing risk of a heart attack, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Senior Cardiac Nurse Christopher Allen finds out more from Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Consultant Physician and Gastroenterologist at Royal Liverpool University Hospitals. In patients with dilated cardiomyopathy, if additional questions remain after a history is obtained and noninvasive testing is performed, cardiac catheterization may be used to help exclude other etiologies of heart failure. Results from serum chemistry evaluations have not been shown to be useful for distinguishing patients with alcoholic cardiomyopathy (AC) from those with other forms of dilated cardiomyopathy (DC). However, results from tissue assays have been shown to be potentially helpful in distinguishing AC from other forms of DC.

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