I had my first heart attack 26 years ago, when I was 52. I was very active
then, sometimes jogging and often walking long distances. But I was also on the
congressional staff in Washington, and the day leading up to the attack was
even more hectic than usual. My boss was introducing major legislation, and I
had crafted an important floor speech. I didn’t have time for regular meals and
ate a huge cheeseburger for dinner, then smoked three or four cigarettes.
It happened about 3 in the morning...
But before you break out that cocktail shaker, know this: Some doctors aren’t sure if those healthy effects come from the alcohol or from other good lifestyle choices that light drinkers make. So if you don’t drink already, don’t start. Diet and exercise also provide many of the benefits listed above.
Heavy drinking can make you more likely to get serious health problems like liver disease, cancer, and peptic ulcers, among others. Regular or high alcohol use can hurt your heart and lead to diseases of the heart muscle, called cardiomyopathy. Binge drinking can cause irregular heart rhythms called arrhythmias. This is why you can’t save up all your “moderate” doses during the week and then tie one on during the weekend.
Who Shouldn’t Drink?
Alcohol can be harmful for some people. Talk to your doctor if you have one of these conditions and aren’t sure whether you should drink or not:
High blood pressure
Irregular heart rhythm
A history of stroke
Obese people, pregnant women, and anyone with a history of alcoholism should not drink. Certain medications don’t mix well with alcohol. These usually come with a warning sticker from your pharmacy that tells you not to drink while you take them.