Most people know that cardiovascular disease can run in families -- that if
you have a family history of heart disease, you may be at greater risk for
heart attack, stroke, and other heart problems. But how much does family
history affect your heart health? What parts of the family tree are most
important? And what can you do about it?
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:
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.