Alcohol and heart health

However, newer research suggests that drinking alcohol in any amount could be harmful. Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more. For instance, the more alcohol you drink at one time, the higher your heart rate gets, according to research from the European Society of Cardiology. A sudden spike in heart rate is potentially dangerous to people with heart conditions, as it could trigger arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats). But there’s plenty of research to back up the notion that alcohol does lead to weight gain in general.

That fourth drink at the bar may feel like it’s relaxing you, but it’s actually affecting your body differently than you might think. This is especially true when you engage in binge drinking (that’s defined as four or more drinks within two hours for women and people assigned female at birth, and five or more drinks within two hours for men and people assigned male at birth). While alcohol may provide anxiety relief in the short-term, it can actually cause anxiety levels to spike once the initial effects of alcohol wear off.

This phenomenon is sometimes called “hangxiety,” and is a result of the way alcohol affects your brain chemistry and central nervous system. A faster heart rate is a common symptom of hangxiety, and can last for a few hours or even days after drinking. Newer research indicates that drinking alcohol, even within the recommended limits, could increase the risk of several types of cancer and even cardiovascular disease.

This means that the higher LF/HF ratio that we found in heavy drinkers is falsely interpreted as increased sympathetic activity, and rather is parasympathetic inhibition. In various biologic systems, oxidative stress can be measured or inferred by several biologic indexes. In humans, endothelial function is assessed by measuring the widening (i.e., dilation) of the brachial artery under different conditions. Some research noted that endothelial function is impaired in abstinent individuals with a long-term history of alcohol abuse or alcoholism(Di Gennaro et al. 2007, 2012; Maiorano et al. 1999). Other studies have examined the effect of a single binge-drinking episode and found impairment in brachial artery endothelial-dependent and -independent vasodilation (Bau et al. 2005; Hashimoto et al. 2001; Hijmering et al. 2007). Therefore, as in animal studies, the effects of ethanol on endothelial function in humans likely depend on the dose and duration of ethanol consumption.

In addition, data from studies using new research methods, including Mendelian randomization, suggest that the relationship between low-to-moderate alcohol consumption and cardioprotection merits more critical appraisal (Holmes et al. 2014). Increased autophagy as a possible mechanism underlying the adverse myocardial effects of ethanol is intriguing. This is especially true in light of the relationship between a sensor of stress (mTOR) and nutrient deprivation and how essential autophagy is to cell survival. As noted above, chronic alcohol exposure leads to a decrease in mTOR activity, which corresponds to increased markers of autophagy (Lang and Korzick 2014). The autophagy pathway also is rapidly upregulated during ATP depletion, mitochondrial dysfunction, and oxidative stress.

  1. Several excellent reviews offer more detailed assessments of vascular cellular mechanisms (Cahill and Redmond 2012; Husain et al. 2014; Marchi et al. 2014; Toda and Ayajiki 2010).
  2. To assess the differences of HRV parameters between genders we employed the Mann–Whitney U test.
  3. Drinking too much can increase your risk for a host of cancers, including liver, stomach, breast, colon and oral cancer.
  4. As the severity of the damage increases, it increases a person’s risk of heart attack, heart disease, and heart failure.

Results from another meta-analysis of 12 cohort studies found a similar dose–response relationship between alcohol consumption and HTN for males. A J-shaped relationship for females showed protective effects at or below consumption levels of 15 g/day (Taylor et al. 2009). These data highlight how gender may be an important modifier of the alcohol threshold level and can shape the alcohol benefit–risk relationship. For example, alcohol consumption typically has been measured through self-report. This is particularly true with excessive drinking behaviors, such as binge and heavy drinking. But like many people, I enjoy the occasional glass of wine with dinner, and nothing tastes better than an ice-cold beer on a sweaty summer day.

Can Drinking Alcohol Raise Your Heart Rate?

On the other hand, significant daily alcohol consumption increases platelet aggregation and reactivity. Infection or other stressful events also can lead to immune-triggered platelet production, a condition called rebound thrombocytosis, which may occur immediately after withdrawal from both heavy and one-time heavy (binge) drinking (Numminen et al. 1996). Although highly individualized and dose dependent, alcohol use also can increase bleeding time (i.e., taking longer to develop a clot)(Salem and Laposata 2005). A weekly pattern of alcohol consumption was observed in a study that included 496 participants, binge drinkers seem to have a sharp increase in consumption on weekends, while heavy drinkers showed a linear increase from Monday toward Sunday [32]. With this rise of alcohol consumption among young people and the risk that comes along, we wanted to assess the impact of alcohol intake patterns on the cardiovascular system. Despite the progress in standardizing measurement of alcohol, studies still vary in how they define the different levels of drinking, such as low-risk or moderate and heavy drinking.

Are there benefits to drinking alcohol?

This area of research was briefly outlined here; more comprehensive reviews on these mechanisms are available (Krenz and Korthuis 2012; Mathews et al. 2015). Alcohol may affect various mechanisms implicated in ischemic preconditioning. Among these is the activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) signaling cascades. MAPKs are activated in response to stressful stimuli and help regulate apoptosis. There also is desensitization of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore, which can mitigate ischemia–reperfusion injury (Walker et al. 2013). In addition, alcohol may attenuate ischemia–reperfusion injury by activating protein kinase C epsilon (PKCɛ) (Walker et al. 2013).

How does alcohol affect my heart?

Another limitation is represented by the fact that the cross-sectional study design assesses simultaneously the exposure and the outcome, losing the temporal relationship. A third limitation is that we used 5-min short-term HRV recordings while a 24-h recording could bring more information about overall HRV, but this was not possible in our outpatient service. Several studies proved that a 5-min HRV recording is stable and can be applied for screening, having a strong correlation with a 24-h recording [70,71,72]. For example, some people who are on cholesterol-lowering medicines may experience muscle aches when they drink alcohol.

Willems et al. [62] reported in 1991 the poor diagnostic performance of nine ECG computer software. In the past decade the machine learning algorithms started to be used more and more in cardiology. As we know, HRV is influenced by many factors and this mesculin makes the machine learning algorithms the optimum solution for analyzing such a complex phenomenon. In 2020, Agliari et al. [63] used machine learning algorithms for detecting atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure based on 24-h Holter ECGs.

Alcohol and Heart Failure

Most of the studies regarding alcohol effects on HRV that we found scanning relevant literature could be divided into two categories. In the first category were small-scale studies focused on HRV changes after acute alcohol ingestion, including only a low number of participants (between 8 and 36) [15,16,17]. The second category approached HRV alterations in chronic alcohol intake. The studies in this category usually compared participants with alcohol dependence versus control, and included mostly men aged over 36 years [18,19,20]. The existing research is quite conflicting — some studies say alcohol improves heart health, while others imply the reverse. According to 2022 research, any amount of alcohol can have a negative impact on the heart and cardiovascular system.

Continuous variables are presented as mean and standard deviation (SD) or median and interquartile range [IQR], and categorical variables are presented as frequency and percentages. We performed descriptive and inferential statistical analysis to summarize the characteristics of the study population. The results of the Shapiro–Wilk normality test showed a non-Gaussian distribution; therefore, we continued to use non-parametric tests. To assess the differences of HRV parameters between genders we employed the Mann–Whitney U test. To evaluate general and HRV characteristics between casual, binge, and heavy drinking groups we employed the Kruskal–Wallis test, followed by post-hoc analysis with the Mann–Whitney U test with Bonferroni correction for pairwise comparison. To evaluate the proportion of various categorical variables in the groups, we applied the Chi-squared test (χ2).

Several excellent reviews offer more detailed assessments of vascular cellular mechanisms (Cahill and Redmond 2012; Husain et al. 2014; Marchi et al. 2014; Toda and Ayajiki 2010). When alcohol enters the body it begins circulating throughout key organ systems. It starts by entering the stomach and small intestine, and then eventually makes its way to the heart. While studies have consistently shown that alcohol consumption leads to increased heart rate, the exact mechanisms that cause this aren’t entirely understood. However, there are three primary reasons that are thought to contribute to an increased heart rate after drinking. Many studies suggest a strong link between high alcohol intake, or binge drinking, and high blood pressure and thickening of the heart muscle.

The SDNN and RMSSD in our study versus Nunan reports were 46.8 vs. 51 ms and 42 vs. 42 ms, respectively. In the frequency-domain binge drinkers had a higher LF 56.7 vs. 47 n.u., lower LF/HF ratio 1.31 vs. 1.7, and similar HF 43.2 vs. 40 n.u.. Even if the time-domain values were similar, we observe slight modification in the frequency-domain, which suggests that binge drinking has negative effects on HRV. Although most of the participants in the study came from urban areas, the distribution in the three groups was homogeneous, with no statistically significant differences. In terms of BMI, there were also no significant differences between groups.