Alcohol Use Disorders and the Heart

The negative impact of harmful substance use on societies physical and mental wellbeing is a global issue. Substance use disorders are associated with a significant disease burden.

In recognition of this, Addiction is initiating a new series of commissioned reviews, Clinical issues: substance use disorders and the body.

The first in the series, Alcohol use disorders and the heart, gives an overview of the impact of low, medium and high levels of alcohol consumption on the heart. 

dilated cardiomyopathy
In dilated cardiomyopathy the muscle walls of the heart have become enlarged, stretched and thin, so they can't contract (squeeze) properly to pump blood around the body.

The researchers also focus in on the clinical presentation, pathological mechanisms, assessment, management and prognosis of people who consume alcohol at higher levels or in a binge pattern.

There is a particular focus on:

  • Hypertension- increased blood pressure;
  • Cardiac arrhythmias- irregular heartbeat ; 
  • and alcoholic cardiomyopathy - due to excessive alcohol consumption the heart becomes unable to pump blood efficiently around the body. 
Day, Ed, and James HF Rudd. "Alcohol use disorders and the heart." Addiction (2019).
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