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Alcoholism and Heart Health Risks

On the surface, it may be hard to make an obvious connection between alcoholism and heart disease.  Everyone is more familiar with the effects alcohol has on the liver and on a person’s behaviors.  Heart and blood problems are definite risks of alcoholism, even though it may not get as much attention.

If you ever needed a reason to go to alcohol rehab (or help a woman do this), then stop and listen to your heart.  Keep in mind that heart disease is a huge but often overlooked health risk for women.  This is going to sound pretty serious for a while, but there is hope – stay tuned until the end of the post.

Common Heart Problems With Alcoholism
Cardiomyopathy is a fancy medical term that literally means “heart muscle” (cardio) “disease” (myopathy).  Alcoholic cardiomyopathy refers to heart failure (not sufficient for the body’s needs) brought on by the toxic long-term effects of alcohol on the heart muscle.

Alcohol is the second leading cause of cardiomyopathy in the United States (blocked arteries are first).  If left untreated, heart failure can lead to worsened heart functioning and even death.  Unfortunately, heart failure due to alcoholism is often not diagnosed until it is in advanced stages.

Irregular heart rhythms called arrhythmias are also common among alcoholics.  These often happen after episodes of binge drinking.  As the heart continues to sustain damage with continuous heavy drinking, these arrhythmias can become part of a general cardiomyopathy.  And has mentioned above, these can be life threatening when left untreated.

Blood Pressure Raised With Heavy Alcohol Consumption

Binge drinking also causes not only arrhythmias but also a spike in blood pressure.  Continuous patterns of heavy drinking can keep blood pressure raised, which puts added strain on the heart.  As many people know, high blood pressure is a serious condition requiring consistent medical care.

Unfortunately, many heavy drinkers have a blood pressure “time bomb” ticking inside them.  Stroke, cardiac arrest, and general heart failure are all risks of untreated blood pressure.  As with many of the various heart problems listed here, serious high blood pressure problems may not be diagnosed until there are obvious symptoms or related health problems.  By that time, a great deal of damage may have been done.

Alcohol Treatment and Alcohol Rehab Can Help Reverse The Tide

OK, you made it through all the scary diseases and life threatening problems.  It’s important to keep those all in mind because they are realistic risks for anyone with alcoholism.  But knowing all that also helps you to do something about it.  That’s the hopeful part of all this.

Do you know a woman who drinks heavily?  This information might give you the courage to speak up and offer some genuine concern about their health.  Alcoholics don’t often want to believe they have a problem with their drinking, but they may have a harder time ignoring physical health problems.  You might have better luck getting your mom or sister to a doctor for a physical ailment than to an alcohol treatment program at first.

Eventually, alcohol treatment will be needed to help an alcoholic woman cut down her heart health risks.  In many cases, becoming sober can either stop or slow and physical symptoms.  Sometimes, damage is irreversible.  But stopping the damage is at least better than having it continue.  And some physical symptoms may lessen, improving the woman’s quality of life.

Take this message to heart – if you or a woman you care for needs alcohol treatment, do whatever you can to get her in the door.  Her heart will thank you for it.

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