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Everything Booze Actually Does to Your Heart

Trust us, it’s even worse than you thought

It’s been found time and again that a glass of wine is actually good for the heart. The problem is that most of us are unsatisfied with a single glass of Cabernet. Instead, we prefer to drink like we’re running from something (or all the things). We know, obviously, that this is unhealthy, and we know, in theory, that it’s bad for our hearts. But what, exactly, is booze doing to the most vital organ in the human body? We spoke to Gregory Marcus, an endowed professor of atrial fibrillation research at the University of California at San Francisco, to find out.

It Screws With Your Heart Rate

“Regular heavy drinking can cause episodes of tachycardia (increased heart rate due to problems in the electrical signals that produce a heartbeat),” says Marcus. “Complications vary, but several episodes of tachycardia can cause blood clots that can ultimately lead to a heart attack or stroke.”

It Jacks Up Your Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is, essentially, when the blood is pumping with more force than normal through the arteries. “Drinking alcohol can lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure, and regularly drinking alcohol can cause high blood pressure,” Marcus explains. “Drinking heavily can cause hardening and thickening of the arteries, which puts you at risk for heart attack and stroke.”

It Weakens Your Heart Muscle

“The muscle layers within your heart wall help to get oxygen and nutrients to the rest of your body — it does this by creating enough pressure for blood to circulate around the body,” says Marcus. “You heart muscle is called myocardium, and damaged heart muscle is called cardiomyopathy. Cardiomyopathy can result from drinking heavily.”

It Can Give You a Heart Attack

Alcohol consumption can raise the levels of fat in the blood. “People with high triglycerides often have high levels of bad cholesterol and low levels of good cholesterol,” says Marcus. “High levels of bad cholesterol can clog arteries and if a piece of plaque breaks off, which could lead to a heart attack.”

We’re going to go drink till we forget we ever learned this stuff. Nice knowing you.