Archive for August, 2015

Is a little nip everyday bad for your health? More than 70 percent of the population either abstains from alcohol or drinks responsibly within low-risk health limits.

Those who enjoy alcoholic beverages welcomed news that a moderate daily drink could protect the body from heart attacks. In long-term studies, those who drank limited amounts of alcohol had less risk of heart failure than either non-drinkers or heavy drinkers.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the most positive effect of alcohol is a slight increase in HDL cholesterol levels. But AHA suggests that regular physical activity also raises HDL cholesterol. One alcoholic drink per day or less for women may help rid blood vessels of plaque. Some substances such as resveratrol, found in red wine, may help prevent platelets from sticking together to form a blood clot. Resveratrol is also available in red grapes, peanuts, and other foods.

Women have lower tolerance to alcohol than men because alcohol disperses in water, and pound for pound, women have less water in their bodies than men do. Also, their bodies break down alcohol more slowly. Limits for optimal heart-health benefits are three to seven drinks per week. Amounts above that may result in serious health problems.

Too much alcohol can poison the heart. The more people drink, the more abnormal changes occur in its structure and function, and women who consume more than one drink per day can expect a slight drop in heart function.

Chronic heavy alcohol consumption often leads to disabling or fatal health problems. Alcohol affects the brain, heart, liver, and potentially other organs. Excessive alcohol can also raise blood levels of some fats and can be a factor in arrhythmias, hypertension, stroke, and sudden death.  Alcohol is the cause of about one-third of non-ischemic heart disease, and even moderate drinking may result in atrial fibrillation. Those who drink more than two drinks per day are one and one-half to two times more likely to have hypertension than those who don’t drink alcohol at all. Extra calories from alcohol may lead to obesity which can cause a higher risk for diabetes.

Women who drink are more susceptible to alcohol-related liver disease than men who drink the same amount. Pregnant women should not drink alcohol at all. The expectant mother can cause serious brain damage to her unborn child or fetal alcohol syndrome in the newborn.

One alcoholic drink per day isn’t the best way to prevent heart disease. The AHA cautions people not to start drinking. For those who do, AHA suggests contacting your physician about the benefits and risks. Before you rely on alcohol to improve heart-health, consider its effects on other health-related issues. Check my next blog to learn the relationship between alcohol and cancer.

Choose wisely─stay healthy.

Read Full Post »