We all know that excessive alcohol consumption can lead to many side effects. These side effects can be as simple as a hangover or complicated medical conditions like liver damages.
One condition that can occur from alcohol abuse is a heart disease known as alcoholic cardiomyopathy.
What is Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy?
The heart is an important organ in our body. Unfortunately, there are many diseases that can cause problems to our hearts.
Excessive alcohol consumption can weaken or thin the muscles in the heart. This affects its function to pump blood to our body. With the decreased blood flow, our body will struggle in doing all its other functions. This can lead to more life-threatening health conditions.
This condition is called alcoholic cardiomyopathy. This can cause the heart to expand for it to hold more blood to pump. If the condition is prolonged, it may lead to the heart muscles and blood vessels to malfunction due to damages.
Alcoholic cardiomyopathy occurs more often in men than women. It can appear during the ages between 35 to 50 years. As the name suggests, it is caused by heavy drinking.
What are the Symptoms of Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy?
Alcoholic cardiomyopathy can begin after 5 to 15 years of heavy drinking. It’s important to be mindful about these symptoms:
- Rapid or irregular pulse
- Weakness and fatigue
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness or fainting
- Swelling of the legs, feet, and ankles
- Appetite loss
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Change in the amount of urine
- A cough with frothy and pink mucus
If symptoms occur, seek your doctor’s advice immediately. There are times where symptoms don’t appear until the condition is already severe. In such cases, the symptoms may already be caused by heart failure.
How to Detect Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy?
Consult with your doctor if you think that you may have alcoholic cardiomyopathy. For a comprehensive diagnosis, a physical examination, laboratory tests, and X-rays may be required.
The physical exams are for your doctor to detect any abnormalities with your heart and lungs. The laboratory tests may not confirm the presence of alcoholic cardiomyopathy. But they can detect the degree of damage in your heart and potential damages to other organs. X-rays, CT scans, and other diagnostic tests can show if the heart is enlarged and if there is any fluid in the lungs.
These tests can give your doctor all the information to determine the best treatment for your condition.
How to Treat Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy?
If detected early, alcoholic cardiomyopathy can be treated. Avoiding alcohol and following a healthy diet is the first approach. But, avoiding alcohol may lead to withdrawal. Ask your doctor how to avoid or manage withdrawal from alcohol.
Other than medication to control your blood pressure, you will need to follow a low-salt diet. Taking diuretics is also advisable to promote removal of salt from your body through urination.
In severe conditions, implanting defibrillators or pacemakers may be required. They can help your heart function.
Alcoholism or excess in drinking liquor can lead to many other health conditions. These conditions can be permanent or life-threatening. While the occasional drink is fun, keep it in moderation to avoid such undesired effects.