This guest post comes from Jessica Kane of AEDs Today. Thanks for the great content, Jessica!
Drinking alcohol can either hurt you or help you, depending on the amount you drink. Although it’s usually heavy drinking and binge drinking that can have the most dire effects, even moderate drinkers can’t get away risk-free. Researchers, however, have found that small amounts of alcohol can have positive effects to your health. Take heed to five ways that alcohol affects your heart in both positive and negative ways.
A drink or two per day can actually have positive benefits on your blood pressure. You feel more relaxed and less stressed after a drink or two, and your blood pressure goes down. However, long-term heavy drinking leads to chronic high blood pressure.High blood pressure is one of the main risk factors in having a heart attack or stroke.
Furthermore, weight gain from drinking alcohol can also lead to high blood pressure. Your heart has to work extra hard when you are carrying more fat than necessary on your body.
Weakening of the Heart Muscle
Heavy drinking weakens the heart muscle and causes a condition called Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy. When the heart is weakened, it then can’t pump the blood it needs to keep you healthy. The heart enlarges in order to store the extra blood, making a further burden on the heart and blood vessels. The heart muscle, valves, and blood vessels have to work extremely hard to do their jobs, but they eventually fail, leading to congestive heart failure and even death.
Binge drinking can cause you to have an irregular heartbeat, which can also lead to a heart attack and death. This is called “Holiday Heart Syndrome” because people tend to drink more over the holidays. The symptoms of this are usually severe pain in the chest and a feeling of breathlessness after binge drinking on alcohol. This mostly occurs in men, but there are also cases with women because usually women weigh less than men, and it takes less alcohol to qualify as binge drinking.
Prevents Artery Damage
Small amounts of alcohol can be beneficial, especially in individuals over 45 years of age. Scientists are still researching these positive benefits, but they have determined that alcohol can prevent artery damage. Alcohol can raise the levels of HDL cholesterol, which is the “good” cholesterol. This means that arteries won’t get as clogged because the HDL cholesterol reduces the amount of fatty deposits. This is great news if you are predisposed to having clogged arteries or if your diet leans toward certain foods which are known to build up plaque in your arteries.
Another benefit that researchers have found in regards to drinking small amounts of alcohol is that certain kinds of alcohol contain antioxidants. Antioxidants help your body to fight off sicknesses and to get rid of toxicity in the body. Researchers have found that wine contains the most antioxidants since it is made from grapes. Those antioxidants are called polyphenols, and they are found in the skin of the grapes. This substance helps to protect the lining of the blood vessels. Another antimicrobial substance in red wine called Reservatrol is known to prevent blood clotting and damage to blood vessels, which in turn are all good news for your heart. Beer and some liquors also contain antioxidants since some are made from natural ingredients that possess such qualities.
Everything is moderation tends to be the message here. Most things in excess cause some sort of damage to the body, having the biggest impact on your heart.
Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who is trying to be healthier this year. She currently writes for AEDs Today, a leading supplier of automatic external defibrillators including refurbished aeds for sale.