Alcohol and the health of your Heart

RSA Health RisksThe effect alcohol can have on your heart heavily depends on your age, your drinking patterns, and the frequency of which you are drinking.

Cardiovascular disease is the grouping of diseases and disorders that involve the heart and the blood vessels. This includes atherosclerosis (fatty plaques on the artery wall and hardening and rigidity of the wall) and high blood pressure, which can predispose an individual to heart attacks, heart failure and strokes. These illnesses kill more Australians than any other disease group.

It is well known that heavy drinkers have an increased risk of contracting heart disorders. The more they drink, the higher the risk of heart disease becomes. Long-term and heavy alcohol consumption is linked with high blood pressure, stroke (especially cerebral haemorrhage due to ruptured blood vessels) and cardiomyopathy (weakness of the heart muscle, in which the heart doesn’t pump blood as efficiently).

There is some beneficial evidence that a regular pattern of drinking small amounts of alcohol (as low as one (1) standard alcoholic drink every second day) can reduce the risk of ischemic heart disease in people from middle age onwards. These benefits are shown mostly in men over 40 years and post-menopausal women.

Although there has been some debate about the reported benefits of alcohol consumption in respect to reduced heart disease, it has also been suggested that there may have been a systematic error in many studies. However, studies that were free of the potential error did demonstrate that moderate drinkers were less likely to suffer cardiac disease than lifelong abstainers.

Important facts to remember about Alcohol and its impacts on health include: in healthy people, consuming up to two (2) standard alcoholic drinks per day – has been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease for men and women. When larger amounts of alcohol are consumed however, the risk of cardiovascular disease increases proportionately. Alcohol intake increases blood pressure with each standard alcoholic drink. This will decrease however, within two to four weeks after you stop or reduce drinking. Drinking heavy amounts of alcohol will increase the risk of high blood pressure and is independent of other risk factors such as being overweight or smoking cigarettes. Genetics can also influence how much your blood pressure will increase when drinking alcohol. Binge drinking habits can cause acute cardiovascular effects, for example, heartbeat irregularities leading to shortness of breath and chest pain. These effects are not instantaneously reversible even if you stop or greatly reduce drinking. And, heavy or excessive amounts of alcohol can increase your risk of stroke. Women are more susceptible than men to haemorrhagic strokes, especially when they drink heavily.

With alcohol having such intense consequences for your health, you should ensure that you are consuming and serving alcohol responsibly.

Club Training Australia provides all you need to know about alcohol, and how to ensure the safety of you and your patrons with our online RSA Training course.