September 24, 2023

NVT Health

Health Blog

What Is Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy? Its Causes And Symptoms

Alcoholic cardiomyopathy refers to a condition in which people consume too much alcohol that damages their hearts. This type of damage can occur because certain parts of an individual’s heart that consume too much alcohol can become enlarged.

These parts can also stretch and make your heart muscles weak. It inhibits the normal blood pumping in the area of your heart. It means your heart is not able to pump blood normally and this condition can increase over a period of time if someone doesn’t stop using excessive amounts of alcohol.

It decreases the normal amount of oxygen in your body. Alcoholic cardiomyopathy can also affect people who are not alcoholics but usually, it occurs in people who use excessive alcohol. It happens in people who have certain genetic mutations and alcohol use disorders.

The processing of alcohol becomes slow in people with alcoholic disorders. It is not a common condition. It occurs in approximately one to two percent of people who consume more than the normal amount of alcohol.

Heavy Drinking

Researchers indicate that if people limit the use of alcohol or its amount they may have fewer chances to develop the disorders related to alcohol. It can improve their health conditions including alcoholic cardiomyopathy. Women can use seven drinks in one week.

For men, the average number of drinks in one week is 14. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that heavy use of alcohol refers to heavy drinking. It is taking more than eight drinks in seven days for women. For men, it is consuming more than fifteen drinks in one week.

One drink contains fourteen grams of alcohol. Its forms can be different according to the concentration of alcohol. Some forms may have a greater concentration of alcohol. 

Always read the amount of pure alcohol on the label before using the drink. It helps you to determine the amount of alcohol you are using.


Many signs of alcoholic cardiomyopathy are associated with alterations in your heart structure. People with alcoholic cardiomyopathy can experience weakness, coughing, palpitations of the heart, enhanced bugging and pressure of veins in the area of the neck, and loss of muscle mass.

Individuals who have alcoholic cardiomyopathy also have decreased appetite and hardening of the liver with swelling. You are at risk of having edema in the area of your lower legs, feet, and ankles if you have alcoholic cardiomyopathy.


The effects of alcohol are very toxic but your body limits its damaging effects and breaks the toxic alcohol into non-toxic ones in case you consume a high amount of alcohol too quickly. But consistent use of alcohol inhibits this protective process.

This process becomes strained specifically in the liver. As a result, it becomes difficult for your body to overcome this damage to different organ systems including the region of your heart. Alcohol abuse for the long term can lead to alcoholic cardiomyopathy.

No limit is present that tells you that you can develop alcoholic cardiomyopathy after crossing it. But researchers have reported some behaviors or things that make you vulnerable to developing this heart condition. These things are given below.

  • Heavy Drinking
  • Genetic Mutations
  • Frequent Binge Drinking


A doctor will take diagnostic tests in combination in order to diagnose you with alcoholic cardiomyopathy. He may ask you about your medical history and a number of questions regarding your lifestyle. 

Your doctor can ask you questions about your personal circumstances. The reason for asking these questions is confirmation of the following:

  • Alterations in the heart shape
  • Chronic use of alcohol
  • Causes additional to heavy drinking

Your doctor will do a physical exam first to determine the condition of alcoholic cardiomyopathy. In this exam, he will examine you for certain physical symptoms like bulging in the area of the neck and swelling on your legs. 

Doctors use a stethoscope to hear the sound of your lungs and heart. Commonly, the condition of alcoholic cardiomyopathy leads to a cracking sound in the area of lungs and heart murmurs.

Imaging Tests

Doctors use imaging tests because these tests help to erect alterations in the shape of your heart. For this purpose, they can use the following imaging tests.

  • Heart magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Echocardiogram
  • Cardiac computed tomography
  • Electrocardiography