It is not uncommon for people in their college years to have a few too many drinks occasionally. Even young adults fresh out of college are likely to binge drink occasionally. The problem with this type of drinking is that most people only consider the short term consequences such as drunkenness and a hangover the following morning.
What people are not putting enough stock into; however, are the potential long term consequences that come from this type of drinking. The Journal of the American College of Cardiology recently released a report indicating that problem drinking may damage the heart on a long term scale.
Heavy drinking can weaken the heart muscle, which causes a condition known as alcoholic cardiomyopathy. When the heart muscle weakens, it stretches and is then not capable of contracting properly. When it cannot contract effectively, then it cannot pump a sufficient amount of blood to nourish the body’s many organs. This shortage in blood flow may cause severe tissue and organ damage over time.
- Shortness of Breath
- Swelling in the Legs and Feet
- Breathing Difficulties
- Irregular Heartbeat
Both long term drinking and short-term binge drinking can affect the way that the heart beats. The heart relies heavily on an internal pacemaker system that allows it to pump in a consistent manner. Alcohol is capable of disrupting this system, causing the heart to beat irregularly. The name for this heart rate abnormality is arrhythmia. When a person drinks to excess, especially someone who does not typically rink, this can trigger an arrhythmia. Over the long term, these heart irregularities can add up, causing changes in the electrical impulses of the heart.
Additionally, binge drinking can lead to a stroke even in someone who does not have coronary heart disease. There have been recent studies which have shown that a person who engages in binge drinking is approximately 56 percent more likely to suffer an ischemic stroke within ten years as opposed to someone who does not binge drink. People who engage in binge drinking are also 39 percent more likely to suffer from any form of stroke as compared to people who do not.
Additionally, alcohol can exacerbate the health issues that lead to strokes, such as cardiomyopathy, arrhythmia and hypertension. Chronic use of alcohol as well as binge drinking cans both cause hypertension as well, which is characterized by high blood pressure. The blood pressure is a measurement of how much pressure the heart is creating every time it beats as well as how much pressure is in the arteries and veins. Consuming alcohol in a heavy manner can trigger the release of stress hormones that may constrict the blood vessels, and this can artificially elevate the blood pressure. Alcohol can also affect how the muscles located within the blood vessels are able to function, and this can cause them to constrict which results in elevated blood pressure.
The bottom line is that drinking is not good for the heart beyond the recommended amount of alcohol. If you are binge drinking or engaging in chronic drinking, then the odds are good that you are causing damage to your heart. This damage can cause more health issues over time, which can even be fatal when left unchecked. If you are struggling with problem drinking in any form, or full blown alcoholism, you need to seek help sooner rather than later. The right help is out there in the form of an alcoholism treatment program, you simply have to muster the courage to pick up the phone today.