Alcoholic cardiomyopathy: Excessive drinking to stay warm in winter can damage your heart

Alcoholic cardiomyopathy: Excessive drinking to stay warm in winter can damage your heart

For men, heavy drinking is when one consumes over four drinks a day or 14 drinks a week.

For men, heavy drinking is when one consumes over four drinks a day or 14 drinks a week. | Photo credit: iStock images

Key highlights

  • According to experts, excessive alcohol consumption in winter can weaken the heart and increase the risk of alcoholic cardiomyopathy.
  • ACM is diagnosed more often in men than in women, among people aged 35 to 50 years.
  • For women, more than three drinks a day or seven drinks a week are known as heavy drinking.

New Delhi: In winter, many people like to curl up in bed with a soothing cup of hot chocolate, latte or chai tea; Fitness enthusiasts do the same by going to the gym and trying to sweat. Alcohol enthusiasts, try to get the same warmth by enjoying a glass of rum or brandy. In the cool months, refilling alcohol seems like an easy way to dodge the cold winds – but it may not be a wise call to do so. According to experts, excessive alcohol consumption in winter can weaken the heart and increase the risk of alcoholic cardiomyopathy.

Alcoholic cardiomyopathy explained

Excessive alcohol consumption is often associated with hypertension (high blood pressure) – a condition that weakens the heart muscle and makes it difficult for the body to pump blood properly. As a result, the heart expands and becomes thin to hold more blood, affecting the proper functioning of blood vessels and heart muscles. If not treated for too long, it can result in heart failure.

When heart disease develops due to prolonged consumption of alcohol, it is known as alcoholic cardiomyopathy (ACM). If the condition is left untreated or unattended for too long, the condition can be potentially fatal as it increases the risk of irregular heartbeats and can trigger congestive heart failure. It is diagnosed more often in men than in women, among people aged 35 to 50 years.

To understand what heavy drinking means, one must pay attention to the statistics; when alcohol intake becomes abusive. People who have a high alcohol intake for a period of five to 15 years or more fall into the high-risk group for ACM.

  1. For men, heavy drinking is when one consumes over four drinks a day or 14 drinks a week.
  2. For women, more than three drinks a day or seven drinks a week are known as heavy drinking.

What are the symptoms of alcoholic cardiomyopathy?

The ACM does not display any characters until it enters the advanced stage. However, as a patient moves toward it, a patient is likely to experience the following:

  1. Fatigue
  2. Shortness of breath
  3. Swelling of feet, legs and ankles
  4. Changes in urine production
  5. Lost appetite
  6. Difficulty concentrating
  7. Weakness
  8. Fast pulse
  9. Dizziness
  10. Fainting
  11. Pink mucus while coughing

Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy Treatment: Some Expert Recommended Tips

To treat alcoholic cardiomyopathy, doctors recommend the following tips:

  1. Practice complete abstinence from alcohol
  2. Cut back on sodium and salt intake
  3. Limit fluid intake to relieve pressure on the heart
  4. Get plenty of exercise – moderate intensity training, strenuous routines should be avoided by heart patients
  5. Stop smoking
  6. Limit your intake of processed foods
  7. In case of symptoms such as chest pain and pressure, weakness and excessive sweating, consult an expert
  8. Do yoga and meditation to relieve stress
  9. Limit your intake of sugar and saturated fat
  10. Maintain a healthy body mass index
  11. Eat foods high in fiber such as legumes, vegetables, whole grains and fresh fruits

Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or dietitian before starting a fitness program or making changes to your diet.

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