Alcoholic cardiomyopathy: causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, prevention

The negative influence of alcohol is known to many, although a significant number of patients do not take it seriously. However, half of alcohol addicts have myocardial damage due to alcohol abuse. Such lesions lead to the onset of alcoholic cardiomyopathy. More than 50% of chronic alcoholics suffer from this disease, and in a fifth of these patients death occurs because of cardiac disorders.

Alcoholic cardiomyopathy

A similar disease is a secondary pathology, provoked by toxic effects due to prolonged intake of alcohol. This pathology can be secretly developed over many years. There are cases when the diagnosis of alcoholic cardiomyopathy is established only after the death of a patient, which, in fact, came as a result of such a disease.

The prevalence of this disease of alcoholic origin is almost impossible to track, because patients abusing alcohol, try not to advertise such addiction. According to statistics, pathology is found predominantly in men who are addicted to alcohol. Usually a prerequisite for the formation of alcoholic cardiomyopathy is the systematic enthusiasm for hot drinks for a 10-year period and more.

According to experts, people who consume more than 8 liters of pure alcohol per year are at risk of alcoholic cardiomyopathy.

Causes of

The determining factor in the formation of such a cardiomyopathic form is the abuse of alcohol. According to experts, the likelihood of death from myocardial ischemia is directly proportional to the amount of alcohol consumed. An interesting fact is that people who do not drink strong drinks at all or are too addicted to them are particularly at risk of dying from such a disease. If you take alcohol moderately, then the probability of dying from myocardial ischemia is minimal.

Extreme doses of alcohol poison the heart cells, interfere with the intake of calcium in the myocardium and other necessary minerals. But it is very difficult to determine when cardiomyopathy begins. Usually alcoholic cardiomyopathy is more often found in 30-50-year-old men, which is caused by excessive excess of the doses of alcohol consumed predominantly strong like vodka, whiskey or cognac. However, beer alcoholism also can lead to the development of cardiomyopathy.

In women, such a disease is detected much less often, but they develop alcoholic cardiomyopathy much faster. In other words, for the formation of alcoholic cardiomyopathy, women have significantly less experience of alcohol dependence. Ethanol is able to quickly accumulate in the body of the weaker sex and soon the first echoes of pathology appear. The conclusion suggests itself - the sensitivity of women to harmful alcohol effects is quite significant, which often leads to the development of a variety of pathologies.
On the video effect of alcohol on the human heart:


The development of the disease occurs against the background of toxic effects of ethanol on myocardial tissue. In small quantities, ethanol is produced in our body, but this ethanol is necessary for normal organic activity. In large quantities, ethyl alcohol acts poisonously, it destroys the cardiac cellular structures. Because of this influence, the heart muscle acquires a loose structure and is deprived of the ability to function normally.


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But they were helping the patient at the very beginning of the pathological process, then early death can be avoided. However, the chronic nature of the disease often leads to the fact that its development is hidden, so patients too late to find out about their ailment.

In the absence of necessary therapeutic measures, in addition to destruction of the cellular structures of the heart muscle, degeneration of vascular tissue in the coronary arteries occurs. Due to such destruction, alcoholic cardiomyopathy progresses steadily, the myocardium wears out and gradually loses its functions.

Symptoms and signs of

Alcoholic cardiomyopathy is more often found in 30-50-year-old male patients with a tendency to excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages. The clinical picture of pathology in such patients depends on the form of alcoholic cardiomyopathy.

There are three similar forms:

  • Classical;
  • Arrhythmic;
  • Pseudo-ischemic.

In arrhythmic cardiomyopathic form, the clinical picture is based on cardiac rhythm disturbances, so a similar type of pathology is characterized by tachycardia and irregular heartbeats. Such symptoms are clearly pronounced and accompanied by dizziness, down to the unconscious state. There is a probability of sudden death.

Pseudo-ischemic variety of alcoholic cardiomyopathy is manifested primarily by cardiac pain. Pain symptom can occur with loads or at rest. Soreness is pulling-aching, it feels burning sensation in the chest. For classical alcoholic cardiomyopathy, diagnostic signs like dyspnoea, frequent heartbeats, interruptions in cardiac activity and pain syndrome are typical.

Photo of the heart of a person suffering from alcoholic cardiomyopathy

Pathology develops slowly and almost asymptomatically, only in later stages it begins to manifest itself by such manifestations:

  • Weakness and excessive fatigue;
  • Sudden weight loss;
  • Hyperpotency;
  • Shortness of breath;
  • Frequent heart beat;
  • Heart soreness.

This symptom is more and more often worried about a patient in a hangover state. Diagnostic studies show an increase in the size of the heart, and its tone becomes muffled. With the progression of pathology, these manifestations acquire a permanent character. Patients begin to complain of swelling of the legs, suffocating attacks at night, etc. These symptoms indicate the development of acute myocardial insufficiency, which can lead to a sudden death of the patient.


The quality of the treatment depends on the reliability of the diagnosis, so a thorough diagnosis is carried out to identify alcoholic cardiomyopathy, which includes:

  • Ultrasound examination of the heart;
  • Electrocardiography;
  • Load test;
  • Daily Monitoring.

The statement of such a diagnosis is impossible without the involvement of an expert in narcology, because it is necessary to confirm the presence of alcohol dependence.

Treatment of

Treatment of cardiomyopathy of alcoholic origin requires an integrated approach. The first thing that is required from the patient is a refusal of alcohol, which is the main culprit of heart damage. Therapy is aimed at facilitating and eliminating the clinic, correcting myocardial insufficiency. The necessary treatment with pronounced cardiomyopathy is carried out in a hospital.

According to experts, the duration of bed rest should be about 3 months. According to statistics, significant improvements in strict bed rest are observed in 7 out of 10 patients with severe cardiomyopathic form. And almost in half of patients the heart decreases to normal sizes.

In general, the complex of therapeutic measures includes:

  • Dietary food, involving the use of a large number of vitamins and protein products;
  • Because alcohol affects other organic systems, treatment includes their recovery;
  • If the heart is greatly enlarged in size, patients are prescribed adrenoblockers, stopping the enlargement of the heart and facilitating the normalization of its parameters;
  • Treatment of myocardial insufficiency is carried out with drugs from the group of cardiac glycosides;
  • Diuretic and antiarrhythmic agents are indicated;
  • With protein deficiency, reception of amino acid or anabolic steroid agents is indicated;
  • In the presence of metabolic disorders Trimetazidine, Phosphocreatine, Levocarnitine, etc.;
  • Potassium deficiency is eliminated with drugs such as potassium chloride and potassium orotate.

In particularly difficult clinical cases involving a high probability of death, surgical intervention involving heart transplantation is indicated. But it should be borne in mind that any surgical intervention is fraught with various complications, therefore it is carried out only in emergency clinical cases.


The only preventive measure of pathology is a strict restriction of alcohol, because it is exactly uncontrolled use of alcohol that causes the occurrence of alcoholic cardiomyopathy.

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