The Big Toll Alcohol Is Taking on Your Heart


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More than 10 million Americans, including higher rates of Latinos, excessively drink alcohol to the point it negatively impacts their lives.

Now, new research links alcohol abuse to a big cause of death: heart disease.

Abusing alcohol increases the likelihood of suffering atrial fibrillation, heart attack or congestive heart failure, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, CNN reports.

“One of the most surprising findings… is that people who abused alcohol are at increased risk for heart attack or myocardial infarction,” said Dr. Gregory M. Marcus, director of clinical research in the Division of Cardiology at the University of California, San Francisco and senior author of the study. “Past data suggests that moderate drinking may be protective, helping ward off this disease.”

A study of Latinos and alcohol abuse by Michigan State University found they have a higher risk of alcoholism than their white counterparts.

Also, alcoholism varies dramatically among the many subgroups of the Latino population.

“[For example,] even though Puerto Ricans are born U.S. citizens and have easy access back and forth between countries, they have a much higher risk factor in part because drinking starts at an earlier age and is a larger part of their culture growing up,” said Carlos F. Ríos-Bedoya, an assistant professor in the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State, in an interview.

Latinos already face even higher risks of cardiovascular disease than other racial and ethnic groups. The American Heart Association links this condition to the disparity in instances of high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes among Latinos.

These two factors combine to make the new study even more critical for Latinos.

“When we look at alcohol, we have almost glamorized it as being this substance that can help us live a really heart-healthy life,” said Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of women’s heart health at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City to CNN. “I think, ultimately, drinking in excess leads to heart conditions, and we should really understand the potential toxicity of alcohol and not glamorize it as something we should include as part of our lives – certainly not in excess.”

The authors of the study hope that this new data encourages people even more to consider curbing and reducing their alcohol consumption habits.

“It becomes a very individual thing,” Steinbaum said. “The American Heart Association has given us very conservative guidelines, saying if you’re going to drink, this is how much but the big picture is alcohol in excess – and excess is more than a very minimal amount – is bad for your heart.”

By The Numbers By The Numbers



of Latino kids have obesity (compared to 11.7% of white kids)

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