What Is Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy and What Causes It?

Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy is a pathological cardiac condition caused due to excessive abuse of alcohol. If an individual abuses alcohol chronically, it tends to make the heart muscles weak, as a result of which it becomes tough for the heart to pump blood to the parts of the body in a normal fashion resulting the vital organs of the body not getting enough oxygen and blood. This can ultimately cause serious health concerns and even can become life-threatening. Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy is most common in people between the age range of 35 to 50 and it is predominantly the male population that has this disease.

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Abusing alcohol can result in various chemical changes within the body which may adversely affect vital organs of the body like the liver and the heart. Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy damages the heart in more than one way in that the heart is not able to pump blood to various parts of the body efficiently. Since all the blood is not able to be pumped by the ventricle there is pooling of the blood thus enlarging the heart. This results in increase of blood pressure which puts more strain on the heart muscles. Eventually, the heart fails to carry out its duties resulting in various symptoms.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy?

Some of The symptoms of Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy are:

How Is Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy Diagnosed?

Since initially Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy may be completely asymptomatic until the condition advances to a critical stage. Hence, it is necessary for the patient to tell the full history to the physician for an accurate diagnosis. If the patient has been abusing alcohol for years then this should be informed to the physician. Once a history has been taken then the physician will perform a detailed physical examination where the physician will inspect for any abnormal heart murmurs or other signs of heart conditions. The physician will also see if there is any swelling of the ankles or feet present. Once Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy is suspected, then the following diagnostic studies will be carried out:

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Chest X-ray: This will give an image of the heart in order to identify any abnormalities of the heart and will clearly show cardiomyopathy.

Echocardiogram: This test makes use of ultrasound waves to look at the functioning of the heart. This test can accurately identify any abnormality of the functioning of the heart.

Electrocardiogram: This test shows the heartbeat in the form of electrical impulses. This test can show whether there is any abnormality in the rhythm of the heart and whether the heart is functioning normally.

Cardiac Catheterization: This is a minimally invasive test in which a catheter is inserted in the heart through the leg. This test accurately measures the pressure that is exerted on the chambers of the heart.

How Is Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy Treated?

The very first step towards treatment of Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy is total abstinence from alcohol. Once this is achieved then strict diet and lifestyle modification is required, so that there is not extra pressure put on the heart. The diet will include strict restriction of salt so that any fluid retention can be prevented. Apart from this, the physician may recommend medications in the form of ACE inhibitors and beta blockers for management of the blood pressure. In case, if there is significant damage inflicted on the heart muscles due to Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy, then a pacemaker may also be implanted to control the rhythm of the heart.

When it comes to the prognosis of Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy, it identified and treated early the damage caused to the organs can be somewhat reversed and the patient does not consume any more alcohol. Recovery of the patient will depend on the severity of the damage caused to the heart due to Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy.

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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: July 26, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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