Alcohol Abuse Linked to Heart Attack Risk

The results of a new study suggest that there is a link between alcohol abuse and heart issues, which are a leading cause of death worldwide. The study, which was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that alcohol abuse increases the odds that a person will develop a heart attack, congestive heart failure or atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat).

Dr. Gregory M. Marcus, senior author of the study and the director clinical research in Division of Cardiology at the University of California, San Francisco, stated that one of the most surprising findings was the link between alcohol abuse and increased risk of heart attack. In the past, research had suggested that moderate drinking could help to ward off cardiac episodes.

Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, the director of women’s heart health at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City said that the media and scientists have focused their attention on the benefits of alcohol use. News items, such as pointing out that drinking a glass of wine each day to reap the benefits of resveratrol, only give people one part of the story of alcohol. Dr. Steinbaum stated the results of the new study are clear.

She went on to say that past stories have “almost glamorized” alcohol use and made it something that can help people live a heart-healthy life. Instead, drinking to excess leads to negative heart conditions. Alcohol abuse is toxic, and not something that should be glamorized at all.

Marcus and his team looked at the medical records of more than 14 million patients as part of their research. Of these patients, approximately 268,000 or 1.8 percent had been diagnosed with alcohol abuse. No specified cutoff or level of alcohol was mentioned in the study.

For the purposes of the study, “alcohol abuse” was defined as being instances where a health care provider had flagged a patient as having an issue with excessive alcohol use. The problem could be either an acute (coming to an appointment drunk) or a chronic one (being addicted to alcohol).

According to the survey results, alcohol abuse doubles the risk of atrial fibrillation. It increases the risk of heart attack by 1.4 and raises the likelihood of developing congestive heart failure 2.3-fold. It doesn’t matter whether someone has any of the conventional risk factors for heart disease; alcohol abuse increases the risk in every instance, according to Marcus and his team of researchers.