Woman with a chronic drinking issue and cardiomyopathy staring at glass of liquor

Understanding Alcohol: How Chronic Drinking Can Affect Your Heart

Several scientific studies have shown that moderate alcohol use may lower a person’s risk of heart disease. But if an individual drinks heavily and regularly, a condition known as alcoholic cardiomyopathy can develop.

In the following, we’ll identify the causes and symptoms of alcoholic cardiomyopathy.

Main Causes

The primary cause of alcoholic cardiomyopathy is regularly heavy alcohol consumption. And this is often defined as consuming five or more alcoholic beverages every day for five or more years.

Binge drinking can also lead to alcoholic cardiomyopathy. For example, a person may abstain from drinking throughout the workweek. But if on the weekends an individual binge drinks for two days in a row, this can also become a cause of alcoholic cardiomyopathy over time.


Alcoholic cardiomyopathy changes the shape of the heart. And as the heart gets larger, the muscle begins to weaken. When the heart becomes too large, it becomes damaged and may not be able to pump consistently enough to supply the body with vital oxygen.

A few of the symptoms associated with alcoholic cardiomyopathy include the following:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Swelling of the lower extremities
  • Pressure in the arteries around the neck
  • Lightheadedness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Chest pain

Note that these symptoms may point to alcoholic cardiomyopathy, but a proper diagnosis by a healthcare provider will be required to determine if a person has this condition.


While stopping heavy and chronic drinking is often the recommended solution, there are also several methods that a doctor may use to help treat alcoholic cardiomyopathy.

For example, certain medications can reduce symptoms associated with alcoholic cardiomyopathy, and sometimes surgery is an option. But the main thing to understand is that drinking will only exacerbate the situation.

A facility located in Gahanna, Ohio, The Woods at Parkside can offer several levels of rehabilitation therapy and treatment programs for patients of all backgrounds. The professional team at The Woods at Parkside provides expert care and can help with treatment for alcoholic cardiomyopathy.

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