Establishing link between binge drinking and holiday heart syndrome

Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with numerous health risks, including a range of cancers. There is no safe drinking level, thus, even though a person may not witness the effects of alcohol in a short term, he or she can develop deadly illnesses after 10-20 years of regular drinking.

One of the most life-threatening impacts of alcoholism is its potential to cause cardiac ailments such as stroke, cardiomyopathy, cardiac arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death. Arrhythmias (or irregular heartbeats) due to alcoholism is a common problem in binge drinkers. Known as holiday heart syndrome (HHS), the cardiac condition mainly occurs due to excessive alcohol intake, especially during holidays when people indulge in prolonged periods of drinking on a regular basis. HHS is often responsible for hospitalizations, since it requires a constant monitoring before it leads to a fatal congestive heart failure or stroke.

Damaging effects of atrial fibrillation

An arrhythmia is an irregular heartbeat. The source of arrhythmias are electrical impulses that fail to function in coordination. Arrhythmia may be a result of other cardiac conditions such as increased heartbeat, also known as tachycardia, early contraction or irregularity in the heartbeat, also known as atrial fibrillation (AFib).

In the United States, nearly 2.7-6.1 Americans are affected by AFib, with the number expected to increase significantly in the aging population of the U.S., as per a 2015 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With one in six adults consuming more than eight drinks per session, as shown by the CDC, people are now more exposed to cardiac problems than ever before.

AFib may arise just after a binge drinking session or it may take 36 hours before the first symptoms appear. The condition can prove to be fatal if the resulting blood clots travel to the bloodstream and reach the brain or the lungs. The probability of an ischemic stroke is extremely high in such patients, even if they do not experience any signs of AFib.

Binge drinking leads to serious health issues

Many Americans are binge drinkers, which means that they drink excessive quantities of alcohol in a short span of time. This pattern of excessive alcohol consumption is a common feature in alcohol-related partying during weekends, holidays and spring break, which results in the blood alcohol concentration rising to .08 percent, post the drinking session. In case a person combines alcoholic drinks with prescription or party drugs, the ill effects can be significantly higher than alcohol alone.

As per the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), binge drinking usually occurs when a man consumes five or more drinks and a woman consumes four or more drinks for women within 2 hours.

According to the NIAAA, one standard drink refers to:

  • One 12-oz. of beer
  • One 5-oz. glass of wine
  • One 1.5-oz. shot of distilled spirits

One of the most dangerous outcomes of binge drinking is that it could slowly spiral into an abuse.  Binge drinking could lead to serious problems in the liver, pancreas, and other body parts. It also reduces cognitive functioning, which results in temporary blackouts.

Road to recovery

Timely treatment and prognosis of alcohol addiction are important for preventing it from causing further damage to the body. The addictive properties of alcohol can wreak havoc on the lives of people who drink and their loved ones. The best way to overcome alcohol-related disorders is to seek advice from professionals and get the right treatment at the right time.

If you know someone who is seeking help for alcohol addiction problem, contact the Alcohol Addiction Get Help Helpline representatives to get information on the best alcohol addiction treatment centers in California. Call our 24/7 helpline number 866-281-3014 or chat online to know more about various alcohol rehab centers in the U.S.