Alcoholic cardiomyopathy

Written by med

Since ancient times, people traditionally with the help of alcohol relieve stress, relax or celebrate any happy event in life. Indeed, from the point of view of health benefits, sometimes you can have a glass or two alkogolsoderzhaschih drink. However, with regular consumption of alcohol causes irreparable harm to the human body.

The content of the article

  • Causes alcoholic cardiomyopathy
  • Stages and symptoms
  • Diagnosis of alcoholic cardiomyopathy
  • Treatment of alcoholic cardiomyopathy
  • The correct way of life in alcoholic cardiomyopathy
  • Complications
  • Forecast
  • Video on the topic: “What is a heart with excessive consumption of alcohol”

The toxic effect of ethanol, which is contained in all alcoholic beverages, begins a few minutes after consumption. This is due to the action of acetaldehyde, which turns the alcohol after entering the human body. The substance is able to circulate in the bloodstream for up to 8 hours. During this time, the aldehyde has a negative effect on all internal organs. Not the exception the heart and blood vessels.

A healthy heart is shown on the left, heart alcoholic on the right. Excessive alcohol consumption can cause a condition known as alcoholic cardiomyopathy, where the heart is markedly enlarged and weakened. For example, if you pour some amount of rubbing alcohol on an open wound, then immediately you can feel the pain and burning. Hence it is easy to understand that a large amount of alcohol consumed in the truest sense of the word irritates the endothelium (inner layer of blood vessels) and heart from the inside. However, scientists know that periodic consumption of 10-20 grams of ethanol reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease (equivalent to 75 grams of vodka). For the female body, the dosage is twice lower.

The problem of post-Soviet countries is the mentality of people. Russian people do not know sense of proportion and very often more than a harmless dose of alcohol consumed. In the last couple of decades, teenagers and women too addicted to this soft drink, like root beer. The main danger in this case is not only a continuous supply of ethanol. In the brewing process for improved foaming in the beverage is added cobalt, which has a direct damaging effect on the heart muscle.

Thus, regular consumption of large quantities of any alcoholic beverages affects the brain, liver and heart. Prolonged exposure to ethanol on the myocardium leads to the development of alcoholic cardiomyopathy.

Alcoholic cardiomyopathy is a heart disease which is caused by toxic effects of alcohol. Mainly is the destruction of cardiomyocytes (muscle cells of the heart) and the violation of their metabolism.

Causes alcoholic cardiomyopathy


A healthy heart and a heart suffering from alcoholic cardiomyopathy In the myocardium, there are some adjustment that can be accompanied by cardiac arrhythmias, development of heart failure due to the expansion of the chambers of the heart or thickening of the muscular layer. For this reason, alcohol cardiopathology can be seen in the context of dilated or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. According to statistics, about half of people regularly consume more than 150 grams of pure ethanol per day have a heart attack. This applies mostly to men aged 40 to 50 years.

Signs of damage to the heart muscle do not appear immediately. Symptoms develop only after 5 -10 years of systematic intake of alcohol. The myocardial damage appears earlier than liver cirrhosis or nervous system disorders (“white” fever and alcoholic psychoses).

To accelerate the development of the disease following risk factors and comorbidities:

  • excess body weight (obesity);
  • arterial hypertension (hypertension, high blood pressure);
  • CHD (coronary heart disease);
  • diabetes mellitus;
  • genetic predisposition.

Stages and symptoms

Symptoms of alcoholic cardiomyopathy vary depending on the stage of disease and experience of the use of alcohol beverages:

  • The stage of functional disorders. Can last up to 10 to 15 years. Symptoms:
    • from the nervous system and blood vessels – hyperemia (redness) of the face, sleep disturbance and emotional distress (confusion, agitation), sweating and tremor of the hands (tremor);
    • from the heart of the system – shortness of breath, regular pain in the heart region, nausea and high blood pressure, seizures, irregular heart rhythm.
  • The stage of dilatation or hypertrophy. Complaints that place patients associated with the development of heart failure:
    • a constant feeling of shortage of air even with the slightest exercise;
    • swelling of feet and lower legs;
    • cyanosis of the nose, fingertips, and ears;
    • violation of urination (associated with kidney damage);
    • the increase in the volume of the stomach;
    • irritability, gait disturbance, attacks of aggression. These symptoms are associated with the development of encephalopathy (malfunction of the brain).
  • Stage of severe degeneration of the heart muscle and eating disorders of all internal organs. Symptoms are mainly caused by violation of the microcirculation of the kidneys, liver, brain, pancreas, heart:
    • General exhaustion of the patient;
    • swelling not only feet, but hands, face, internal cavities of the body;
    • shortness of breath at rest;
    • cough;
    • the decrease in blood pressure.

Poisoning of the body in conjunction with chronic circulatory insufficiency leading to irreversible changes and death of the patient.

Diagnosis of alcoholic cardiomyopathy Given the delicacy of the causes of the disease, consultation with relatives of the patient and the patient talk with a psychiatrist-narcologist. Suspected alcoholic cardiomyopathy is possible in the absence of denial of the abuse of alcohol in combination with the existing clinical picture. For correct diagnosis it is still necessary to exclude other cardiomyopathies, due to:

  • malformations of the heart;
  • rheumatologic diseases;
  • violations of hormonal background of the organism.

To examine the extent of damage and changes in the functional state of the heart used the following methods:

  • ECG, Holter examination and ECG with the load. It is necessary to identify cardiac arrhythmias.
  • Echocardiography. Is performed to examine the degree of hypertrophy or dilatation (expansion) of heart chambers. The last named pathology occurs much more often. This reduces the contractility of the heart muscle and ejection fraction. Ie, with a single contraction of the heart in blood stream gets a lot less blood than usual (reduce this volume to 55%).
  • X-ray examination. In the picture you can detect enlarged shadow of the heart and signs of stagnation in the small circle of blood circulation (increased pulmonary pattern due to venous congestion in the lungs).
  • General analysis of blood. You may experience a decrease in hemoglobin.
  • The General analysis of urine. Traces of protein and/or bilirubin. Characteristic damage of liver and kidneys.
  • Biochemical analysis of blood. Specific changes for this disease does not exist. Depending on the internal organ will be increased kidney indices and hepatic enzymes.
  • Ultrasound. There may be damage to the pancreas, liver, kidneys, adrenal glands.

Treatment of alcoholic cardiomyopathy

The mainstay of treatment, an absolute rejection of the use of alcoholic beverages. The lifting of the alcohol stops the development of a disturbance in the heart muscle. Recovery of internal organs is possible only in the initial stages of the disease. In the third stage, support the work of the heart is carried out only with the help of medications.

The first stage is used:

  • various vitamins and minerals;
  • drugs magnesium and potassium (Asparcam, Panangin, …);
  • antihypertensive drugs for hypertension and antiarrhythmic agents with cardiac arrhythmias.

At later stages when joining the signs of heart failure additionally prescribe:

  • diuretics (Furosemide, Indapafon, …);
  • cardiac glycosides (Strofantin, Digoxin, …).

In some cases, in the treatment of add:

  • nitrates (Nitroglycerin, …);
  • statins (Atorvastatin, …);
  • antiplatelet agents (Aspirin, Polcard, Cardiomagnyl, …);
  • anticoagulants (Heparin, …).

The correct way of life in alcoholic cardiomyopathy

  • Avoiding alcohol and limiting or quitting Smoking.
  • The right six meals with restriction of fatty, spicy or salty.
  • Limiting the amount consumed per day of fluid (1.5 liters).
  • Normalization of sleep (about 8 hours per day).
  • Sufficient physical exercise (regular walks in the fresh air).
  • Avoidance of stress.
  • Regular intake of required medications.


This disease of the myocardium is very dangerous complications that can develop at any time and cause disability or death. The main ones are:

  • lethal arrhythmia (ventricular fibrillation);
  • thromboembolic complications (myocardial infarctions and strokes).


At the first stage of the disease with proper treatment it is likely full recovery of the body. Adequate treatment at later stages can greatly extend the life of the patient, however, full recovery will not happen. According to statistics, 35% of patients die from sudden cardiac arrest.

Thus, alcoholic cardiomyopathy represents one of the variants to dilated or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The expansion of the cavities of the heart developing in the majority of cases. The mainstay of treatment, a complete rejection of alcohol, and strict observance of all recommendations of the doctor. If untreated alcoholic cardiomiopatiei there is a high risk of death.

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