Alcohol Damages Your Heart More Than You Think
Drinking does serious damage to more than your liver
If you are struggling to beat alcoholism, heart health can seem like the last of your concerns. But sadly, alcohol abuse can and does cause a variety of heart problems, some of which are fatal. We want to encourage anyone concerned about their drinking to consider the effects it has on their physical health. Most people are aware of the health dangers related to street drugs, but alcohol abuse is equally detrimental to your long-term health.
Alcohol and Heart Disease
The cardiovascular risks related to alcohol abuse are serious. If left untreated, they can also be fatal. Because their bodies metabolize alcohol differently, women may be at an even higher risk for alcohol-related heart problems than men.
High Blood Pressure – Large amounts of alcohol can raise blood pressure, leading to hypertension and stroke. High blood pressure is referred to as the “silent killer” because it often exists without symptoms.
Heart Failure – Alcohol abuse can cause the heart muscle to weaken and lose the ability to function properly. Heart failure is a serious and progressive condition. There is no cure, but it can be managed through medication and lifestyle changes. Symptoms of heart failure include unexplained fatigue, shortness of breath, edema (swelling of the legs, feet or hands), persistent coughing and increased or irregular heart rate.
Cardiomyopathy – Cardiomyopathy refers to a group of diseases which cause the heart muscle to become rigid, thick, enlarged or filled with scar tissue. As cardiomyopathy progresses, the heart is unable to pump blood efficiently or maintain the body’s normal electrical rhythm. In a weakened condition, the heart is vulnerable to heart valve problems and other complications. Symptoms include fatigue, edema and shortness of breath.
Cardiac Arrest – Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops beating and the body’s electrical circuit stops pulsing. Many factors can cause cardiac arrest, including an overdose of toxins such as alcohol or abnormal heart rhythms which can be caused by alcohol abuse. The vast majority of people who experience cardiac arrest are never revived.
Your Healthy Heart
One thing recovery teaches is that we can’t control all the aspects of our lives, we can only strive to make them better. The same is true in recovering from alcoholic-related heart disease. It is possible to improve heart function, but the level of improvement depends on how much damage has been done to the heart muscle and how advanced that damage is. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to heal your heart and improve your physical condition as you improve your psychological and spiritual condition through addiction treatment.
- If you haven’t already, stop drinking. Eliminating alcohol from your life is crucial to healing the damage caused by alcoholism. Entering recovery is the best way to identify and treat the physical damage caused by alcoholism
- Stop smoking. People who abuse alcohol or drugs are frequently smokers. Don’t trade one addiction for another. Cigarette smoking is a major cause of heart disease in the U.S.
- Follow a low-salt, heart-healthy diet that includes plenty of omega-3 fatty acids like those found in salmon, avocados and walnuts.
- Exercise regularly with your doctor’s guidance. It may be necessary to start with short increments of gentle exercise before your heart is healthy enough to safely withstand a vigorous workout.
- Lose weight if it’s needed. Many who’ve suffered with alcohol addiction for a long period of time are already overweight. The focus should be on achieving a healthy weight through a balanced diet.
- Prescription medications such as beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors or diuretics may be required to get your heart healthy again.
- In some cases, a surgically implanted pacemaker is the best option for long-term health.
At Malibu Beach Recovery Center, our philosophy is to provide comprehensive treatment for the whole person. That includes addressing the physical effects of long-term alcohol or drug abuse. Our staff includes certified medical experts who can diagnose and develop a treatment plan for addiction-related health issues.
If you’re diagnosed with cardiomyopathy or any other heart-related disease due to alcoholism, stay positive. Feeling guilty about the past is counterproductive to your recovery. Be proactive, and focus on the things that will improve your health and your quality of life. Self-love, forgiveness and a positive outlook can also do a lot to heal a wounded heart.