How Does Alcohol Affect Heart Health

How Does Alcohol Affect Heart Health

According to the World Heart Federation, “more than 18.5 million individuals have died of CVD, making it the leading cause of global mortality and disability.”

Alcohol addiction is a growing factor in increasing heart issues people are having. To beat addiction, alcohol rehab may be your only path forward.

So, what links alcohol and heart disease? What can be done to stop your alcohol consumption from having dire consequences on your heart?


How Does Alcohol Affect the Heart?

There are many risks when it comes to your heart health and alcohol intake, both in the short and long term.

Immediate Risks of Alcohol Consumption for Heart Health

Increased Heart Rate

Drinking can temporarily increase your heart rate, meaning it beats faster. A lower heart rate is better as it means your body is efficiently circulating blood around your body. Alcohol elevates your heart rate by disrupting electrical signals that keep your heart beating at a regular pace and causes your blood vessels to expand and dilate.

Having a problem with alcohol can affect your mental health and make you suffer from issues such as stress. Stress is known to negatively affect your heart rate.

Raised Blood Pressure

Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure. It affects the muscles in your blood vessels and will make them narrower. If you engage in regular binge drinking then your blood pressure can remain high. This is known as hypertension and will increase the risk of many heart issues such as heart failure and stroke.

Irregular Heartbeat

Alcohol can cause your heart to beat slower or faster, which is called arrhythmia. The most common type of arrhythmia is atrial fibrillation which is an irregular rhythm in the upper chambers of your heart. This will feel like a fluttering or rapid pounding in your chest. Irregular heartbeat is linked to heart failure and heart attacks.

Potential Long-term Dangers of Excessive Alcohol Consumption

Coronary Heart Disease

In the long term, alcohol can contribute to fatty substances building up in your coronary arteries. This limits and blocks your heart’s blood supply. This can cause chest pains and may lead to a heart attack.


Alcohol-induced cardiomyopathy happens as parts of your heart stretch. The heart muscle is weakened and it can’t pump blood around as effectively as before. This will result in your body not getting the oxygen that it needs to function properly.


High blood pressure is the major risk factor for a stroke, which alcohol addiction can contribute to. Strokes are caused due to blocked blood flow to the brain, resulting in potentially permanent loss of motor and sensory functions.


Risk Factors for Heart Disease

There are many different elements, including alcohol, that can increase your chances of having heart problems at some point.


Men are generally at greater risk of heart disease than women. Men are also more likely to become addicted to substances including alcohol.

Alcohol Consumption

The risks of alcohol consumption for heart health are clear. Alcohol contributes to many heart issues including increased blood pressure. This can cause your arteries to become thick and hard which will interrupt the blood flow in your body.


Tobacco can damage your arteries and smokers are more susceptible to heart attacks. Many people that drink are also social smokers. If you go out and drink more often then you will be smoking more so this will increase the risk of heart problems down the line.

Family History

If there is a history of alcohol and cardiovascular health problems in your family then you may be more at risk. Often people that grew up around alcoholics will struggle with similar issues later in life so history is a big factor around addiction as well as your heart health.

Poor Dental Health

This may not seem obvious but bad dental health can impact your heart. Unhealthy teeth and gums mean that germs can enter your bloodstream easier and cause serious issues such as endocarditis. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to poor dental health as drinks such as cider and beer can be acidic. More acid in your mouth will lead to teeth erosion.


Safe Alcohol Intake Guidelines

The NHS recommends that you “drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, spread across 3 days or more. That’s around 6 medium (175ml) glasses of wine or 6 pints of 4% beer.”

If you drink more than these figures but do not require a professional detoxification programme then you can cut down on your intake at home. If you taper off your drinking gradually you will hopefully not feel any negative withdrawal symptoms. This can come easier if you have a plan and switch to drinks with a lower alcohol percentage.

In step with this, there are other things you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease and alcohol addiction.

Exercise is something you can do to fill the time you spent drinking. Cutting down on drinking and increasing exercise helps you lose weight which is a contributing factor to heart disease. Ensuring you get good regular sleep reduces your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack and diabetes. It can also help with mental health issues such as stress which can impact your heart health and alcohol intake.


Alcohol Addiction and Heart Health

The old belief that moderate drinking can be good for your heart is no longer accepted. Alcohol addiction is destructive and will affect every aspect of your life, especially your heart.

As stated above there are many direct links between heart disease and alcohol addiction.

Addiction will increase stress and mental health issues, make you poorer and lead to an unhealthier diet, cause you to gain weight and create a poorer quality of life. All these will have an impact on your cardiovascular health.

If you are worried about this you should seek treatment to improve heart health.

Residential addiction treatment through Rehab Clinics Group is an effective way to combat addiction. Alongside an alcohol detox programme, you can take part in our range of therapies to get the root causes of your addiction.

With us, you will leave rehab physically and psychologically healthier.


Get in Touch

If you are concerned about your heart health and alcohol intake then rehabilitation can help. At a private drug and alcohol rehab like the ones in the Rehab Clinics Group network, you can gain access to a bespoke treatment plan.

For more info call us at 0800 470 0382 or text HELP to 83222.