Alcohol and Heart Disease

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Alcohol and Heart Disease

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Low to moderate alcohol use might lower the risk of coronary artery disease.

If you drink alcohol, limit how much you drink. But if you do not drink alcohol, do not start drinking to try to lower your risk of heart disease. You have many other options that can lower your risk. These options include a healthy diet, exercise, and not smoking. Talk to your doctor about your heart and the benefits and risks of drinking alcohol.

Drinking too much alcohol can be dangerous and can cause problems. Drinking too much alcohol may:

  • Contribute to high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for coronary artery disease.
  • Directly damage heart muscle (alcoholic cardiomyopathy), which may weaken the heart, leading to heart failure.
  • Cause abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias).
  • Slightly increase the risk of breast cancer in women.
  • Interact with your medicines if you are being treated for heart disease (or other diseases or conditions).
  • Increase your risk of liver disease.

People who have liver problems, heart failure, high blood pressure, certain blood disorders, or problems with alcohol abuse should not drink any alcohol.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer John A. McPherson, MD, FACC, FSCAI - Cardiology
Last Revised August 12, 2010

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