What Happens to Your Heart When You Drink Alcohol

2022-06-11 12:48

You've certainly heard that red wine is good for your heart—but is that the case with all types of alcohol? Here's a look at what happens to your heart when you consume beer, liquor, or wine.

Before we get into what science says about how your heart is affected by drinking too much alcohol, let's first define what "too much" is: According to the 2020-2025 dietary guidelines for Americans, alcohol is a beverage to limit in your diet. If you choose to drink, moderate drinking is defined as a limit of 2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women. (Related: The Biggest Danger Sign You're Drinking Too Much Alcohol, Say Doctors.)

A drink is defined as 12 fluid ounces of beer at 5% alcohol by volume (like a Budweiser), 5 fluid ounces of wine at 12% alcohol by volume, and 1.5 fluid ounces 80-proof distilled spirits 40% alcohol by volume. This means that if you are taking in "craft" alcoholic beverages and the percent alcohol by volume is higher, you could be taking in more than 1 serving. Some craft beers can have so much alcohol by volume that it equates to three servings of alcohol! Drinking too much alcohol certainly can have some serious health consequences—especially on your heart.

Drinking too much alcohol can increase blood pressure.

Research has shown that drinking too much alcohol is associated with high blood pressure. Although the mechanism of action is still being studied, research does show that having more than three drinks in one sitting can raise blood pressure. When this is done repeatedly over a long period of time, it can increase blood pressure long-term.

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