Alcohol-Induced Cardiomyopathy Symptoms & Treatment

Alcohol-Induced Cardiomyopathy Symptoms & Treatment

Excessive alcohol use comes with numerous health risks, but alcoholic cardiomyopathy is especially dangerous. This condition refers to heart palpitations after drinking, which can lead to heart failure and other life-threatening symptoms. Let’s get into what you need to know. 

What Is Alcohol-Induced Cardiomyopathy? 

It’s no secret that alcohol can have adverse effects on your heart. Over time, excessive alcohol use may weaken the heart muscle, making it challenging to pump blood effectively. When this happens, the heart must expand to hold extra blood. Unfortunately, this process can thin and enlarge the heart, which may cause irreversible damage.

Alcohol-induced cardiomyopathy is a type of heart disease associated with long-term alcohol abuse. It is more common in middle-aged men, but it can also affect women who struggle with heavy drinking.

According to the CDC, heavy drinking in men refers to consuming more than 15 drinks per week (or more than four drinks per day). For women, it’s consuming more than 8 per week (or more than three drinks per day). In most cases, people with alcoholic-induced cardiomyopathy have engaged in heavy drinking for several years.  

What Causes Cardiomyopathy?

Cardiomyopathy isn’t just associated with alcohol. For example, children and young adults may develop this condition. Research shows that up to 1 in 500 people have cardiomyopathy. Unfortunately, many times, it is undetected and undiagnosed. With that in mind, even without symptoms, people are still at risk for having sudden cardiac death. 

However, excessive drinking is associated with impairing the heart’s capabilities. If the heart cannot pump blood normally, it must expand and enlarge itself to do the same job. Over time, this strain may cause heart failure.

Heavy drinking and being male are the main risk factors for alcohol-induced cardiomyopathy. However, other factors, such as one’s weight, age, preexisting medical conditions, diet, and family history, may exacerbate the risk.  

Cardiomyopathy Symptoms

Symptoms may vary in severity based on the intensity of the condition. That said, some common cardiomyopathy symptoms include:

  • Chronic feelings of fatigue and weakness.
  • Lightheadedness.
  • Heart palpitations after drinking.
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Severe chest pain.
  • Fainting episodes.
  • Elevated blood pressure.
  • Heart murmurs.
  • Swelling in the feet, ankles, or legs.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Changes in urination (urinating less often or far more frequently).
  • Concentration problems.

It’s important to note that alcohol-induced cardiomyopathy doesn’t always cause specific symptoms. Furthermore, symptoms may progress slowly, and you might assume they are due to something else (like asthma or panic attacks or even stress).

But even just one symptom may indicate problems with the heart. If you struggle with heavy drinking, it’s important to get assessed immediately. Untreated alcohol-induced cardiomyopathy may cause significant heart valve problems, blood clots, heart failure, and death.

A doctor will diagnose cardiomyopathy after conducting a physical exam and evaluating your medical history and diagnostic test results. They may also engage in various procedures, like an EKG, chest X-ray, or echocardiogram test. 

It’s crucial to be honest about your drinking history, even if it feels frightening or shameful. Having an accurate diagnosis with an appropriate treatment plan may help save your life. 

Alcohol-Induced Cardiomyopathy Treatment

First and foremost, you will need to abstain from alcohol moving forward. Of course, if you struggle with an alcohol use disorder, this recommendation can feel incredibly challenging. Depending on the severity of your addiction, you may benefit from medical detox or inpatient substance use treatment.

Your doctor might also suggest other recommendations, including:

  • Taking a diuretic to remove excess water and salt.
  • Limiting fluids.
  • Adhering to a low-salt diet.
  • Taking prescribed beta-blockers to lower blood pressure.
  • Using a pacemaker to help support your heart.

If alcoholic cardiomyopathy is diagnosed early and damage is mild, the condition can be reserved. However, in more severe cases, complete recovery may not be possible. That said, it’s essential to stick with your treatment plan and abstain from further alcohol consumption.

Click here to learn about early signs of liver disease.

Final Thoughts

Alcohol abuse can be life-threatening, and severe symptoms can emerge at any time. Waiting for treatment until it’s too late can result in devastating consequences for you or your loved ones.

If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, please contact one of our addiction specialists and call (866) 578-7471. 

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26 comments
  1. You wanna learn more, always stay tuned to this blog. Great topic as well as valuable tips on how to curb or reduce it drastically. Thanks alot for this one a Detoxtorehab. Knowledge gained.

  2. Thank you to this blog. Thank you to the author. I have never known cardiomyopathy not until today. This is worth sharing.

  3. Thank you Detax to rehab for sharing these type of stories with all of us.These stories are really very much inspirational for many people who are addicted with something and try to recover from that.

  4. Detox to rehab thank you for sharing and educating us on Alcohol- induced cardiomyopathy causes and treatment. I learnt that you don’t have to wait for treatment until it is too late. Thank you for sharing.

  5. The only constant factor in life is change. Transforming from drug addiction to drug_free life makes one joyous. It’s never too late to take a bold step.

  6. This is truly an educative article. This shows that taking alcohol has negative effect on the human mind and body. The best way to be safe from alcohol addiction is ABSTINENCE.

  7. The best way to be safe from alcohol addiction is ABSTINENCE. This is truly an informative article. This shows that taking alcohol has negative effect on human mind. Alcohol addiction is not a good thing.

  8. This is a well detailed and educative piece of work. I had no idea of what alcohol induced cardiomyopathy was until now. This article has done the job of breaking it down for me.

  9. Cardiomyopathy symptoms are really much and one can think of it as other sickness causing similar symptoms.
    Do seek medical help and abstain from excessive Alcohol use.

  10. This is indeed a life threatening diseases with this write up. Whoever is having any of the symptoms highlighted should seek help.

  11. This post is very educative, It really enlightened me about cardiomyopathy treatment for addiction ,thanks to detox to rehab for sharing this life saving and informative post.keep the good work going welldone

  12. yes anything in excess is always threat . We should keep away from the and the only hack to keep away just judge yourself on regular basis .

  13. Alcoholic cardiomyopathy treatment may require a specialized diet low in salt as well as medications, such as ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, or diuretics. Thanks for sharing this information.

  14. This is good advise for all who is willing to take responsibility. Thanks detox to rehab. Your posts are always very informative.

  15. I never knew about Cardiomyopathy thanks for opening my eyes to it. I think we should limit the way we take drinks to avoid this dangerous problem.

  16. Any alcohol induced sickness is always risky and dangerous just like this one. look at the array of consequences it induces. it is pertinent to avoid taking excess drinks as they harm our bodies

  17. As I said before for those who quit early good but at times they quit a little too late. One of those reasons are health issues. I mean we all get sick but by us engaging into these abuses we are increasing our chances for issues such as this later on. I am no doctor but even I know that this is bad news.

  18. This is a great information for those taking alcohol excessively. They are risking their lives. Thanks Detox for providing this great information. It will help lot of people

  19. After read this article I have new knowledge,that alcohol especially Cardiomyopathy really dangerous to our heart and body,and thank you for very informative article

  20. Alcohol intake must be observed at all times. Occasional drinking is fine. And we should be responsible on how much we intake. This is a good read. Very insightful!

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