When it comes to a healthy diet, moderation is key. By consuming sensible portions of healthy food and drink, your body has time to process what it's consuming and send the message back to the brain that it's had enough. When we don’t eat and drink in moderation, our bodies can become overwhelmed, causing short and long-term consequences.
A new study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2015 underlines this truth, especially when it comes to long-term consequences. The study, which observed men and women between the ages of 30 and 70, shows that alcohol abuse is associated with a 70 percent increased risk of congestive heart failure in adults. Congestive heart failure occurs when the heart muscle becomes weakened to the point that fluid begins to build up in the lungs and surrounding body tissues.
Researchers studied more than 850,000 patients randomly selected from a database of emergency department, ambulatory procedural and inpatient healthcare encounters between 2005 and 2009. Four percent of the patients were diagnosed with alcohol abuse during a study follow-up, and 12 percent developed congestive heart failure.
Other factors considered in the study before alcohol abuse included age, gender, race, high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary artery disease, chronic kidney disease, valvular heart disease, dyslipidemia, smoking, obesity, obstructive sleep apnea and income.
What’s interesting about this study is that there was an especially strong link between younger adults (under the age of 60) with low blood pressure and congestive heart failure. That means younger adults without high blood pressure might be more prone to the toxic effects of alcohol than adults—older or younger—with high blood pressure.
It's important to note that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, alcohol abuse is defined as "a pattern of drinking that results in harm to one’s health, interpersonal relationships, or ability to work." If you do drink, do so in moderation. Moderate drinking is defined as drinking an average of one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.
People who should not drink at all include people under the age of 21; women who are pregnant or may become pregnant; people who plan to drive or operate heavy machinery; people taking medications that interact with alcohol; and people with certain medical conditions.
If you have questions or concerns relating to your alcohol consumption, make an appointment with your primary healthcare provider.