Effects of Alcohol on the Heart: Current Views

Kouvaras, George; Cokkinos, Dionisios
August 1986
Angiology;Aug1986, Vol. 37 Issue 8, p592
Academic Journal
Chronic and heavy alcohol consumption has deleterious effects upon the cardiovascular system and may cause congestive cardiomyopathy. Evidence of cardiac malfunction has been found in chronic alcoholics without overt heart failure by invasive and noninvasive methods. Ethanol is the incriminated factor having a direct cardilotoxic effect. Electron microscopy and cardiac muscle biopsies show that ethanol may cause changes on plasmalemmal, mitochondrial, and sarcoplasmic membranes. The clinical picture and general management of alcoholic cardiomyopathy do not differ substantially from those of congestive cardiomyopathies of any type. It has, however, been demonstrated that cessation of alcohol consumption may lead to an improved prognosis, even to restoration of normal cardiac function, in individuals with preclinical and mild manifestations of cardiac dysfunction. The literature on the possible association of coronary heart disease with alcohol seems to be ambiguous. It has, however, been postulated recently that moderate alcohol intake may have a protective role against coronary heart disease, in contrast to alcoholic intemperance, which may be a factor favoring coronary heart disease.


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