Mercy Hospital & Health Services Contact Us
About Mercy
Join Our Team
set font size large set font size medium set font size small
email this page print this page
Health Article Banner
Women's Health

Mercy Women's Care at St. Anne
3404 W. Sylvania Avenue
Toledo, OH 43623

Mercy Women's Care at St. Charles
Navarre Medical Plaza
2702 Navarre Avenue
Suite 101
Oregon, OH 43616

Mercy Women's Care at St. V's
2213 Cherry Street
Toledo, OH 43608

How Alcohol Affects Your Heart

separator It seems like there’s always a news article talking about a study showing that moderate alcohol consumption may reduce the risk of heart attack. (“Moderate” drinking is defined as one to two drinks per day for a man and one drink per day for a woman. People over 65 should drink even less.)

It’s true that some studies have shown that alcohol seems to help in raising HDL, or “good” cholesterol. It also decreases the risk of blood clot formation, and blood clots are a leading cause of heart attack. But the American Heart Association does not recommend that people take up drinking simply to decrease their risk of heart problems.

Why not drink alcohol?

There are good reasons to avoid alcohol. Moderate alcohol consumption can raise triglyceride levels in some people. Triglycerides, fatty compounds in the blood, can lead to the development of heart disease. Additionally, drinking alcohol can increase the risk of arrhythmias and enlargement of the heart.

Alcoholism is a big problem in this country. One out of nine Americans is an alcoholic. This level of alcohol abuse contributes to the development of

  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Problems with the pancreas and stomach
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Stroke
  • Cancer of the mouth, larynx, pharynx, liver and esophagus

It seems risky to encourage people to drink alcohol when we all know that becoming an alcoholic is dangerous business.

Alcohol also has calories. Maintaining a reasonable weight is important for people with heart disease. Drinking excessive amounts of

  • Beer (100 calories per can)
  • Wine (usually 80 to 95 calories for a four-ounce class)
  • Hard liquor (averaging about 75 calories for one ounce)

can make it difficult to control your weight.

Finally, drinking alcohol can have negative effects on blood pressure. Just two alcoholic drinks per day can raise blood pressure, and alcohol can prevent blood pressure medications from working effectively.

Becoming an alcohol drinker puts anyone at higher risk of alcoholism or serious disease. There are other, non-risky ways to get the heart-protective benefits that alcohol may provide. Regular exercise, a healthy diet and stress reduction practices are a better idea.

Talk with your doctor
If you don’t already drink regularly, taking up the practice is probably not something your doctor would recommend. If you do drink regularly, talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of drinking.

The American Heart Association; M. McGowan. Heart Fitness for Life. Oxford University Press, New York, New York, 10016, 1997; F. Pashkow and C. Libov. The Women’s Heart Book. Hyperion, New York, New York, 10023-6298, 2001.
follow us online
facebook youtube

Contact us
Home  |  Sitemap

Disclaimer & Terms of Use  |  Privacy Statement  |  Notice of Privacy Practices
Copyright ©2016 Mercy. Last modified 9/27/2010