Immediate risk of heart attack and stroke goes up after alcohol session: Study

Immediate risk of heart attack and stroke goes up after alcohol session: Study

Binge or heavy drinking over longer periods of time can have serious consequences. It can increase the risk of cancer, heart problems, injuries and accidents. The previously held belief that a small quantity of alcohol is actually good for the heart does not hold true anymore, with the scientists now reviewing the claim.

Today, the belief about the protective effects of moderate alcohol consumption is weaker than previously thought. In fact, if the new research by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health is to be believed, this association is more complex than is widely accepted.

The study, published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation in March 2016, revealed that the chance of heart attack and stroke is likely to double in the hour following even moderate alcohol intake.

Even moderate drinking may increase risks

“Most prior research has focused on the long-term risk of heart attacks and strokes associated with alcohol consumption, but the immediate risks have not been well-documented,” said lead author Elizabeth Mostofsky, Sc.D., a post-doctoral fellow at BIDMC and an instructor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“This new study highlights the fact that alcohol has complex physiological effects that result in both higher and lower cardiovascular risk depending on the amount of alcohol consumed, drinking frequency and what aspect of heart health is being measured,” she said.

To better understand the chance of heart attacks and strokes, Mostofsky and her colleagues examined the data of 23 studies, including 30,000 participants. The results revealed that soon after alcohol enters the body, even in smaller quantities, it accelerates the heart rate, increases the blood pressure and makes blood platelets stickier, which eventually increases the probability of heart attack and stroke.

The study found that even moderate alcohol intake – one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men – may increase a person’s chance of a heart attack or stroke approximately two times within the hour following consumption vis-à-vis other times.

“After 24 hours, though, only heavy alcohol intake conferred a continued heightened risk. In other words, heavy drinking increases risk both in the short-term and the long-term, but drinking smaller amounts has different effects in the subsequent hours than it does in the subsequent days and weeks,” she said.

Effects of alcohol

Alcoholism is a long-term problem which can affect emotional stability, finances, career and relationships. One doesn’t realize when drinking takes the shape of problem drinking. But if one regularly takes alcohol even in smaller quantities to overcome the stress of life, he could be doing more harm than good.

According to studies, approximately 17 million American adults are addicted to alcohol, and about one-third of the addicts do not show any problem signs after treatment. Many others have also reported to reduce their drinking level. A 2015 report by the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that every year 3.3 million deaths (5.9 percent of all deaths) result from harmful use of alcohol.

Path to recovery

Like other deadly diseases, drinking can also get out of control gradually. That’s why it’s important to reconsider drinking habits and seek professional help. A rehab can provide the critical help you need.

Any kind of alcohol intake is harmful as it can turn into an addiction and create a havoc. The Alcohol Addiction Helpline of California strives to help people get rid of alcohol. If you or your loved one is battling addiction, call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-980-1715 or chat online for further information.

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