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A Wake-Up Call for Women & Men: Risks for Heart Disease Due to Alcohol Consumption

A Life Saving Moment

A study presented at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session reveals that women are more susceptible to heart disease due to alcohol consumption than previously thought.

The research, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, highlights the urgent need for awareness and action.

The study, which analyzed data from 432,265 adults aged 18 to 65, found that both men and women who engaged in heavy episodic drinking, or binge drinking, were at the highest risk for coronary heart disease. The average age of the participants was 44 years old, and none of them had a history of heart disease at the beginning of the study.

“The link between alcohol and heart disease was particularly strong among women, signaling a troubling trend in the rise of alcohol-related health issues among women,” according to The Texas Heart Institute Center for Cardiovascular Care’s women’s center medical director, Dr. Stephanie Coulter. “Young to middle-aged women who drink eight or more alcoholic beverages per week — classified as “high intake”— may be at a higher risk for developing heart disease. This risk is especially high for women who engage in binge or episodic drinking.”

In the study, women who reported high alcohol intake (eight or more drinks/week) were found to have a 45% higher risk of heart disease compared to those with moderate intake (3-7 drinks/week) while moderate drinkers had a 29% higher risk compared to those with low intake (1-2 drinks/week).

Men with high alcohol intake of 15 or more drinks per week were also found to have a 33% higher risk of heart disease compared to those with moderate intake (3-14 drinks/week).

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among American women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, making this research even more concerning. Symptoms of heart disease can often go unnoticed until a heart attack occurs, underscoring the importance of taking preventative measures.

Dr. Coulter further emphasized that alcohol is toxic to the heart and raises the risk of numerous health issues. Despite previous beliefs that alcohol may be beneficial for heart health, recent evidence challenges this notion and underscores the need for caution.

Women are increasingly at risk due to rising alcohol consumption rates, with approximately 13% of adult women reporting binge drinking.

Occasional binge drinking poses a serious risk to heart health, warns Dr. Coulter. Even weekend drinkers may be impacted if they consume more than four drinks for women or five drinks for men in a single day.

Experts around the country continue to stress the need for women to be vigilant about their alcohol consumption and its impact on heart health.

By reducing or abstaining from alcohol consumption, individuals can potentially mitigate some of the risks associated with alcohol consumption. However, issues such as heart enlargement may persist even after stopping drinking, underscoring the need for early intervention and prevention, according to President of The Texas Heart Institute Center for Cardiovascular Care, Dr. Eduardo Hernandez.

“This study serves as a wake-up call for women to be mindful of their alcohol consumption and its implications for heart health much earlier in life,” added Dr. Coulter. “With heart disease posing a significant threat to women’s well-being, it is crucial to prioritize prevention every day — including weekends and holidays — and take proactive steps to safeguard heart health.”

Dr. Stephanie Coulter sits with KPRC Channel 2’s Haley Hernandez to share the growing concern of the medical community. Watch Interview