Alcohol and the Heart


Drinking too much is a common cause of people needing to go into hospital and alcohol has a number of implications for the health of the heart. For example, it can cause heart rhythm abnormalities and raise the blood pressure.

It can also be damaging for heart muscles and cause liver problems and some types of cancer. In addition, alcohol contains a lot of calories and therefore can cause people to put on excess weight. Carrying too much weight puts a strain on the heart.

If you want to avoid alcohol-related heart problems, it’s advisable to stick within the unit limits which have been laid out by the Government. This is a maximum of two or three units a day for women (no more than 14 units a week) and a maximum of four units a day for men (no more than 21 units a week). If you drink more than this on a particular day, you should have at least 48 hours off drink so your body can recuperate.

Some studies suggest that, drunk in moderation, some alcohol can be beneficial for the heart. For example, some say that one or two units of alcohol per day can help ward off coronary heart disease, especially in the over-40s and women who have had the menopause. Although this could be true, it does not follow that non-drinkers should begin drinking to reap such potential benefits. Experts suggest it’s better to focus on eating well and taking regular exercise.

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