Alcohol Can Lead To Heart Damage, New Study Suggests

First Posted: Sep 17, 2016 04:40 AM EDT

Humans tend to enjoy alcohol intake - whether it's a glass of wine for dinner, a bottle of beer with friends, or some scotch before bed, most people tend to drink once in a while. And while we all know the dangers of excessive alcohol intake, it seems that there is cause for one to reconsider that nightly glass - new research suggests that alcohol is not actually as healthy for the heart as previously believed.

According to Health Day, long-term drinking in moderate amounts may increase the risk of stroke by causing the heart's left atrium to get bigger - the enlargement can contribute to a condition called atrial fibrillation, which means that the heart beats irregularly. Senior researcher Dr. Gregory Marcus, director of clinical research at the University of California, San Francisco, said that the new information should lead people to temper any drinking that people believe to be good for their heart.

Atrial fibrillation is said to cause blood to pool ad clot in the heart's left atrium, and if it breaks free, it can block a blood vessel in the brain that can lead to a stroke - after all, about 15 percent of people who have had strokes had atrial fibrillation first, as noted by the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

However, as WebMD noted, Marcus believes these findings may not be applicable to everyone, as some people have a genetic link for atrial fibrillation, and alcohol really just makes things worse for them. Until recently, doctors have only largely considered atrial fibrillation as an electrical disorder of the heart, but Marcus and his colleagues suspected that it too, can be caused partially by physical changes - after all, long-term heavy drinking have already been shown to cause heart failure by enlarging the lower chambers (also known as ventricles), and other lab research has already determined that the atria is even more prone to damage.

That being said, people who drink everyday should speak with their doctor about heart health risks.

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