How Alcohol Harms the Heart
Despite some research that shows drinking alcohol in moderation can have a positive effect on cardiovascular health, the adverse effects of drinking are well known. Now, a new study suggests heavy drinking can lead to arterial stiffness over time and increase heart disease risk.
Arterial stiffness is a significant indicator of cardiovascular health. The goal of this recent study was to examine the effect of long-term alcohol consumption on arterial stiffness. For the study, researchers evaluated arterial elasticity using a measurement called pulse wave velocity (PWV) every 4-5 years for 25 years. High PWV indicates arterial stiffness. They also evaluated drinking patterns.
According to researchers, heavy drinking affects the elasticity of the arterial walls—especially in men—interfering with blood flow and impacting cardiovascular health. The exact reason for this is unknown at this time. It may be that alcohol intake leads to arterial stiffness by activating certain enzymes that increase collagen levels.
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