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Posts Tagged ‘Alcohol Abuse’s Effects On The Heart’

Facts and Statistics on Alcohol and Health in the United States

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

Facts and Statistics on Alcohol and Health in the United StatesAll over the United States, people drink alcohol in excess, which has not only a detrimental effect on their physical health, but on the mental health of their families. Learn how alcohol affects the mind and body, as well as the health of the nation.

Alcohol Use Versus Abuse: What’s Healthy?

First, it’s important to distinguish alcohol use from alcohol abuse. Drinking alcohol isn’t necessarily detrimental to your health if you’re considered a “light” or “moderate” drinker. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designates “moderate” drinking as one drink per day for women and two drinks a day for men.

A drink is:

  • 12 oz. of Beer
  • 8 oz. of Malt Liquor
  • 5 oz. of Wine
  • 1.5 oz. of Liquor

Moderate alcohol consumption may actually be beneficial to your health, including decreased risk of stroke and heart disease. Experts think part of this may be because moderate drinkers are more likely to drink in a social setting, and strong interpersonal relationships decrease stress.

Drinking alcohol in excess of moderation is called heavy drinking or binge drinking. Binge drinking is defined as more than 4 drinks in a single session for women, or more than 5 drinks for men. Excessive drinking is considered more than 8 drinks per week for women, or 15 drinks a week for men. It’s important to realize that most people who drink, even those who binge drink or drink excessively, are not alcoholics or alcohol-dependent

Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol Use Disorder

When alcohol use begins to impair your ability to lead a healthy and productive life, it may be a sign of something more. Prolonged and heavy drinking can lead to alcohol use disorder (AUD).

AUD is a medical condition that requires people meet certain diagnostic criteria. For example, if you experience a strong craving to drink and drinking (or being sick from its aftereffects) interferes with your job, schooling, or ability to care for your family within the same 12-month period, you may have AUD.

You don’t have to have AUD to experience the negative health effects of drinking. Alcohol can be a risk factor for other conditions, like obesity, cancer, and diabetes.

The Prevalence of Alcohol Abuse in the United States

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that, excessive alcohol use led to almost 90,000 deaths annually from 2006-2010, shortening the average lifespan of those who died by 30 years. Excessive drinking is responsible for 10% of deaths among working-age adults in the United States.

The Prevalence of Alcohol Abuse in the United States

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), conducted annually by the National Institute for Health, found that 27% of those surveyed in 2015 reported binge drinking within the previous month. In the same year, 15.1 million adults aged 18 and older had alcohol use disorder. Of these people, only 8% received treatment.

Unfortunately, the death rate associated from alcohol use has increased in recent years, according to federal data. In 2015, the death rate reached a 35-year high, claiming nearly 31,000 lives. The United States has experienced a 37 percent increase in the number of alcohol-induced deaths since 2002. This number only includes deaths directly related to alcohol consumption – victims of drunk driving, accidents, and homicides where alcohol was a factor were excluded.

Alcohol Claims American Lives

Much of the public health headlines dominating the news of late have surrounded the opioid epidemic. Americans focus much less attention on the dangers of alcohol, perhaps because of its legal status. But it’s no less deserving of our attention. In fact, in 2014, alcohol-induced accidents killed more citizens than heroin and prescription opioids combined.

Drinking has increased across all Americans in recent years, but the increase has been more pronounced among women. The percentage of women reporting past month drinking rose from 47.9 to 51.9.

Alcohol Has Negative Health Effects

Heavy and prolonged alcohol abuse can lead to a host of health problems. Long-term drinking often leads to cirrhosis, a liver condition that can lead to death. In 2013, nearly half of all liver disease deaths were caused by alcohol. This was slightly more likely in men than women. Among all cirrhosis deaths in 2013, 48% were alcohol-related. Alcohol-related liver disease is also the primary cause of an estimated 1 in 3 liver transplants.

Alcohol Has Negative Health Effects

Alcohol abuse affects more than just your liver. Drinking also increases your risk of oral cancer, including the esophagus, pharynx, and larynx. In women, alcohol abuse is linked to an increased incidence of breast cancer.

Lastly, heavy drinking is bad for your heart. Over long periods of time, excessive drinking can cause serious health problems. Excessive drinkers are more likely to develop arrhythmias, stroke, high blood pressure, and cardiomyopathy, a condition characterized by the stretching of the heart muscle.

The Alcohol-Obesity Connection

Alcohol also has an indirect effect on our health by causing us to be more prone to obesity. At 7 calories per gram, alcohol is a calorie-dense substance that is often sweetened with sugar and other caloric additives. Excessive consumption of these calories can lead to positive energy balance and weight gain. Excess weight is also associated with numerous negative health outcomes, from cancer to diabetes.

Alcohol and Your Mental Health

Drinking can also increase anxiety or exacerbate feelings of depression. When we drink, our brains are wired to produce more cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. This can lead to increased anxiety when we stop drinking, which in turn may lead to an urge to drink more. It’s easy to see how a vicious cycle of alcohol abuse and stress can develop.

Alcohol Abuse in America

Alcohol use continues to be a major issue in America. Even though the majority of Americans who drink are not alcoholics or alcohol-dependent, they may still struggle with health problems caused by the consumption of alcohol. Alcohol-related health problems cost Americans almost $250 billion each year. It is time we take steps to address the problem.

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How Alcohol Abuse Affects The Major Organs Of The Body

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

How Alcohol Affects The Body Organs

Alcohol abuse has been proven to be deadly if continued over long periods of time, but we often overlook the long-term effects of alcohol abuse, as many believe that “long term” is considered to mean years or decades. This lack of foresight and understanding of just how much of an effect alcohol actually has on the entire body contributes to the high rates of alcohol abuse.

It is often difficult for human beings to truly grasp the repercussions of our actions in the long term, but sometimes taking a little time to learn exactly how our decisions will affect our future is all we need to gain clarity. With this clarity and understanding, making the right decisions may be easier. It is our hope that this article will help readers gain a better idea of just how alcohol abuse affects the body – in particular, the major organs.

Alcohol Abuse’s Effects On The Brain

We will start with the effects that alcohol abuse has on the brain, as that is one of the first places where we begin to feel or notice the effects of alcohol after consumption. First off, we should remind our readers that alcohol has long been used as an antiseptic: Its antiseptic properties come from the fact it can very easily break down cell walls and even tissue. While this is helpful for weakening or destroying viruses, bacteria and other single-celled threats, alcohol will also weaken or damage the individual cells and tissues across your body’s systems – especially the most fragile of cells and tissue, located in the brain.

As alcohol travels through the bloodstream, it runs through the various blood vessels in the brain and through brain tissue itself. This causes damage to the tissue of the brain, especially in certain concentrated areas, including the limbic system, thalamus, hypothalamus, frontal lobe systems and neurotransmitter systems.

While nearly half of the average 20 million alcoholics in the United States show no signs of cognitive damage, the other half show mild to severe neuropsychological difficulties. Of the most common, these difficulties can range from minor shakiness, anxiety and depression to the extreme symptoms of impairment of language, reasoning or learning.

Wernicke–Korsakoff Wet Brain Syndrome From Alcohol Abuse

Also known as alcohol-induced persisting amnesic disorder, this disease is a form of brain damage that results from the leeching of Vitamin B1 (also known as thiamine) out of the body from alcohol. This vitamin deficiency can cause a range of symptoms, including:

  • Confusion
  • Loss in mental activity
  • Abnormal eye movements
  • Loss of muscle coordination

While certain symptoms of Wernicke-Korsakoff can be treated, and vitamin treatment can restore the thiamine deficiency, cessation from alcohol use and abuse is the only way to prevent the disease from progressing any further. If left untreated, this disease can eventually lead to coma and death.

Alcohol Abuse’s Effects On The Heart

Alcohol is well known for causing a wide variety of issues with the heart and the circulatory system. As stated earlier, alcohol is transported throughout the body in the blood stream, doing damage to the blood vessels along the way, and to the heart when it reaches that junction.

Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy

A form of heart disease that is specifically caused by ongoing alcohol abuse, alcoholic cardiomyopathy is a thinning and weakening of the heart muscle. This is where the problem starts, but it spreads from this point, causing further damage and additional ailments. When the heart weakens, less blood will flow readily throughout the body. This lack of blood flow will disrupt ALL major body functions, and most often lead to cardiac failure.

Symptoms of Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy:
  • Change in the output of urine
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rapid, irregular pulse
  • Swelling of the legs and feet

Alcoholic cardiomyopathy and heart failure are the prime concerns regarding the heart and alcohol abuse, but one must also remember that high or low blood pressure disorders from drinking and diabetes can also be the result of alcohol abuse – either of which will contribute to heart disease and eventual heart failure.

Alcohol Abuse’s Effects On The Kidneys

Binge drinking especially has a profoundly negative effect on the kidneys, though any amount of alcohol consumption over the doctor-recommended safe level will certainly affect the kidneys. Binge drinking and long-term alcohol abuse creates changes in the kidney structure itself, with the glomerulus becoming heavily thickened and the kidney itself enlarging.

Blood flow changes

Again, alcohol abuse affects blood flow: In this case, blood flow to the kidneys. The purpose of the kidneys is to filter blood and to remove toxins from the bloodstream before these toxins leave the body in the form of urine. One such toxin that the kidneys are eager to rid the body of is alcohol, and the kidneys will work overtime during alcohol consumption to not only get rid of the alcohol within the bloodstream, but to keep up with the steady flow of more alcohol into the body from consumption.

While the kidneys are hard at work removing alcohol, they begin to slip when it comes to maintaining the distribution of other elements in the bloodstream such as sodium, chloride and potassium. All of this abuse on the kidneys takes its toll, and can lead to alcoholic kidney failure. Going back to the heart again, let’s not forget that alcohol increases the risk of high blood pressure, and that high blood pressure is the second-leading cause of kidney failure.

Alcohol Abuse’s Effects On The Pancreas

Alcohol can often confuse or impair the judgment of those consuming it, and it can confuse a variety of organs as well, causing these organs to malfunction, or not properly function. The pancreas is quite often confused by the presence of alcohol, and begins to malfunction in its duty of secreting enzymes to the small intestines.

Instead of sending these enzymes to where they are needed, the pancreas tends to build up the enzymes or only secrete them locally. As the enzymes build up in and around the pancreas, inflammation begins to take hold – causing sharp pains in the abdomen, nausea and vomiting.

Alcoholic Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis simply refers to the inflammation of the pancreas, and the severity can vary. In extreme cases of acute pancreatitis, surgery and medication may be needed immediately – coupled with stopping the intake of alcohol. In the worst cases, pancreas function can be forever altered, requiring enzyme replacement therapy, insulin and analgesics. As in the case of all alcohol-induced diseases, the affected patient will have to stop drinking or watch the disease continue to progress.

Alcohol Abuse’s Effects On The Liver

The most profound impact that alcohol has on the body is seen within the liver, and this is where the most serious effects are usually seen. So why did we save the effects on the liver for last? As an example of the finality of the damage of alcohol to the liver.

Quitting drinking early on will help stave off the most devastating damage on the liver, and certain damage can be reversed, but you really need to understand that the majority of the damage taken by the liver from alcohol will be permanent. While it is a frightening fact, when it comes to liver disease, it is quite often considered terminal, meaning it will never go away – and simply keep progressing.

Liver disease is a general name given to several diseases of the liver including cirrhosis, alcoholic steatohepatitis, hepatitis [A, B, C, D and E], non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, iron overload and Epstein Barr. Liver disease is the progressive failure of the liver itself, the largest organ and largest gland in the human body. While specific treatment can extend the life of the organ and the patient, the progression of liver disease often requires liver transplants, and can turn into liver cancer in 4th– and end-stage progressions.

It’s Never Too Late To Stop Alcohol Abuse

We have taken a long tour around a body that has seen its share of negative health effects from long-term use and abuse of alcohol. While much of this information can cause anxiety or even fear, we hope that our readers will take away the true message that we were hoping this article would convey, which is that it is never too late to stop alcohol abuse.

While damage may have already done, a full healthy and happy life can still be achieved by recognizing the problem of alcohol abuse or alcoholism, and consciously taking steps in the right direction. Between medical assistance and alcohol abuse treatment programs, it is possible to heal some of the damage and to guide yourself toward a life of sobriety and recovery.

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