Alcohol abuse in young adults and its impact on heart

Dr Hasmukh Rawat, a Senior Interventional Cardiologist and HOD - Cardiology, Fortis Hospital, Mulund, shares how alcohol consumption can affect the health of the heart, and what problems it can cause

Image source: Google
Image source: Google

We all are aware of the fact that too much of anything can turn out to be bad for you. Today, young adults do not understand the importance of preventive health care and turn a deaf ear to the most advice given in this regard.

For a majority of this group, socially recognised lifestyle habit such as alcohol consumption is the best way to celebrate. Although several studies say that moderate intake of alcohol helps in boosting heart health, it is not the whole truth.

When you consume alcohol regularly in large quantities, it slows down your heart rate and breathing levels, getting linked to high blood pressure (known as hypertension). Over time, hypertension puts a strain on the heart muscles, which can result in Cardiovascular Disease (CVD). The number of young adults aged between 18 and 35 years, who are addicted to alcohol abuse, are continuing to rise every year.

Alcohol abuse can cause following heart problems :

High blood pressure: Blood pressure increases with consumption of every alcoholic drink. If you stop extreme intake of alcohol, then your Blood Pressure gradually decreases and regain normalcy within 2-4 weeks.

Arrhythmia (Irregular heartbeats): Extreme alcohol consumption or abuse can cause arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats) which puts you on an increased risk of Heart problems. If one cuts down alcohol consumption, there will be a rapid improvement in the blood pressure.

Cardiomyopathy: Excessive drinking can weaken the heart muscle, and can affect its pumping efficiencies.

Stroke: Heavy drinkers usually have higher chances of suffering a stroke at an early age, as compared to those who drink less. It can lead to cerebral haemorrhage due to ruptured blood vessels. Here, the women are more susceptible than men.

It is very vital to understand and keep in mind that drinking a large amount of alcohol contributes to a more severe form of Stroke at an early age in adults, who had no significant medical history in the past.

Coronary artery disease: Although alcohol consumption is not the only factor leading to coronary artery disease, however, it is one of the causes for damage to the arteries.

Peripheral artery disease: Heavy drinking increases chances of suffering peripheral artery disease (narrowed blood vessels), which in turn can increase your Blood Pressure and Triglyceride levels (a type of fat found in the blood), which might lead to progressive weight gain.

Congenital Heart Disease (CHD): If you’re an adult with existing CHD, it is essential to consult a physician and to understand whether alcohol is safe to consume.

Alcohol can raise the Blood Pressure, leading to abnormal heart rhythms; this further aggravates your heart problems. If you’re a parent of a teen who has CHD, help them understand the impact of alcohol on their heart, so they learn to say No.

Myocardial infarction (heart attack): According to the World Health Organization, every year, six million people suffer from Myocardial Infarction. Higher the consumption of alcohol, stronger the effect of Myocardial Infraction.

Cardiac arrest: Alcohol abuse is one of the most common causes leading to cardiac arrest. The more the consumption of alcohol, the more will it affect the functioning of your Heart; it can even lead to death.

Apart from these, the following are the short term and long term effects of alcohol abuse, which can impact your Heart health.

Short-term effects:

  • Vision impairment.
  • Lack of co-ordination (impact on motor skills).
  • Slurred speech (a problem in speaking).
  • Extreme mood swings.
  • Memory loss.
  • Lowered breathing capacity.