Low to moderate intake of alcohol has been shown to have positive health benefits including reduced risk of stroke and coronary artery disease. The cut point at which alcohol intake goes from beneficial to harmful is not known. Heavy alcohol intake is often defined as 14 drinks for males and 7 drinks for females in a week. Excess alcohol consumption can lead to health complications such as cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle leading to decreased function).
The risk of developing a cardiomyopathy is a function of the amount of alcohol consumed on a daily basis and the total duration of drinking. The diagnosis is usually made based on an established history of heavy and consistent alcohol use and after other causes of cardiomyopathy have been excluded. Symptoms may come on slowly and include shortness of breath, and irregular heart beat. Many individuals do not have symptoms early in the disease course but will still have evidence of impaired heart function upon testing. The condition can progress to congestive heart failure and death.
The main treatment is total abstinence from alcohol. Under these circumstances it is possible for the heart function to recover. However, if a person continues to drink alcohol, the chances of dying as a result of deteriorating heart function are very high.
- Flair, Ric, Mark Madden (editor) and Keith Elloit Greenberg (contributor). Ric Flair: To Be the Man. World Wrestling Entertainment 2005.
The medical resource www.uptodate.com was used in the preparation of this blog. Photographs are for illustrative purposes only. Wrestling with Death does not claim ownership.