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What is Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy?

March 15, 2018

Most people will have heard of cirrhosis of the liver and understand that the condition is caused by long-term damage of the liver through heavy drinking, but other organs in the body can be seriously affected by alcohol, and the heart is one of them.

Abuse of alcohol can bring about a condition called alcoholic cardiomyopathy, where the heart muscle is weakened and it can no longer pump blood as effectively. Not only does this have an effect on other organs in the body that are not getting the blood they need, but the heart itself can begin to expand to hold the excess blood that is not being pumped correctly. The heart can enlarge and become thinner, to the point that the vessels and muscles cannot function properly.

If untreated, alcoholic cardiomyopathy can lead to congestive heart failure.

From the CHEST Journal “In the United States, in both sexes and all races, long-term heavy alcohol consumption (of any beverage type) is the leading cause of a nonischemic, dilated cardiomyopathy, herein referred to as alcoholic cardiomyopathy (ACM). ACM is a specific heart muscle disease of a known cause that occurs in two stages: an asymptomatic stage and a symptomatic stage. In general, alcoholic patients consuming over 90g of alcohol a day (approximately seven to eight standard drinks per day) for longer than 5 years are at risk for the development of asymptomatic ACM.”

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