February is American Heart Month and the perfect time to commit to a healthy heart. Even small lifestyle changes can add up to significant benefits to our cardiovascular health.

Alcohol Effects on the Heart

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Unfortunately, heart disease is among the leading causes of death in the country. People can greatly reduce their risk of heart disease by eliminating habits including smoking and excessive intake of alcohol.

Potential Perks of Alcohol

Drinking alcohol is believed to provide some merit, particularly for the heart. However, for drinking alcohol to be beneficial, it must only be done in moderation. Drinking too much may increase the risk of health problems and damage the heart.

Here are a few possible perks of moderate alcohol consumption:

  • It may reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • It may reduce the risk of ischemic stroke. Ischemic stroke occurs when the arteries in the brain become blocked or obstructed, resulting in severe reduction of bloodflow to the brain.
  • It may reduce the risk of diabetes.

Notice that while there is some evidence pointing to the benefits of measured alcohol intake, nothing is conclusive yet. It is also possible that these benefits may be experienced by one moderate drinker but not another.

An additional problem is that this message can be easily confused. Because alcohol has been linked to a few limited health advantages, many people excuse their binge drinking, only to compromise their well-being. If you have not started drinking yet, it is recommended that you do not start, as the hazards of alcohol often outweigh its advantages.

Moderate Alcohol Consumption

Moderate drinking is defined as one drink or less per day for women of any age and for men older than 65 years of age. For men who are 65 years old and younger, the standard allows up to two drinks per day.

What constitutes one drink? Consider the following examples:

  • 12 fluid ounces of beer
  • 5 fluid ounces of wine
  • 1.5 fluid ounces of distilled spirit (80 proof)

Drinking with restraint may provide a modest boost to your heart health, but there are many other ways to stay healthy—and most of these methods aren’t associated with the same problems that accompany drinking. Explore your options for a healthy heart and commit to make positive changes. After all, the heart is undoubtedly the most important muscle in the body.