Coronary Artery Disease and Alcohol

Overview

Many experts say that light to moderate drinking can be part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. But there isn't enough evidence to tell us if drinking alcohol actually helps your heart.

If you drink alcohol, limit how much you drink. But if you do not drink alcohol, do not start drinking to try to lower your risk of coronary artery disease. You have many other options that can lower your risk. These options include a healthy diet, exercise, and not smoking. Talk to your doctor about your heart and the benefits and risks of drinking alcohol.

Drinking too much alcohol can be dangerous and can cause problems. Having more than 1 alcohol drink a day for women or more than 2 drinks a day for men may:

  • Contribute to high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for coronary artery disease.
  • Increase your risk of stroke.
  • Directly damage heart muscle (alcoholic cardiomyopathy), which may weaken the heart, leading to heart failure.
  • Cause abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias).
  • Interact with your medicines if you are being treated for heart disease (or other diseases or conditions).
  • Increase your risk of liver disease.

Drinking alcohol may also increase your risk of some types of cancer. Any amount of alcohol may increase that risk. So if you drink, that's why it's important to drink in moderation.

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