Port of Call has teamed up with the British Heart Foundation (BHF), to give you some need to know information about how drugs and alcohol affect your heart. We want you to be armed with all the facts, so that you can make an informed decision about your drinking habits this Heart Month and beyond. If you think you have an addiction problem, talk to Port of Call today about your alcohol and drug rehab options.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the single biggest killer in the UK and worldwide. In Britain, more than one in seven men and nearly one in ten women will die from CHD. It is responsible for nearly 70,000 deaths each year. That’s an average of 190 people each day, or one death every eight minutes – most of which are caused by a heart attack.
Binge drinking’s effect on your heart
Binge drinking more than the recommended amount of alcohol, and taking certain illegal drugs, can have a harmful effect on your heart and general health. At the upper end of the scale, some of the effects of alcoholism include abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure, damage to your heart muscle and other diseases such as stroke, liver problems and some cancers.
According to the BHF, more than a quarter of women in the UK regularly exceed national guidelines for daily alcohol intake, and this type of risky behaviour could well be a ticking time bomb – literally – for the nation’s heart health.
The effects of drugs on your heart
Many illegal drugs and so-called ‘legal highs’ affect the heart. The effects of drugs are many and varied, but they can include raised blood pressure, increased heart rate, and an irregular heartbeat. It may come as no surprise that many illicit drugs increase your heart rate and blood pressure. Substances like cocaine, amphetamines and ketamine can all put a strain on your heart in this way, which can potentially lead to irregular heartbeats, heart attacks and strokes.
Moreover, some drugs – like heroin, GHB (liquid ecstasy) and poppers – actually reduce your heart rate and blood pressure. This can lead to slowed breathing, which in turn has the potential to stop your heart. With heroin and amphetamines, there is also the risk of pulmonary oedema, which is when fluid flows back into your lungs causing extreme shortness of breath.
Injecting drugs like heroin and cocaine increases the risk of the life threatening heart condition, endocarditis – an infection of the inner lining of the heart. While sniffing solvents like glue can lead to irregular heartbeats, blackouts and in extreme cases: death. When mixed with tobacco, cannabis also has the potential to cause heart disease. Furthermore, many so-called legal highs can produce many of the aforementioned complications too.
Can alcohol ever be good for you?
There may be some heart health benefits for women over the age of 55, as long as they have no more than five units in a week. However, the BHF advises against starting drinking if you don’t already. There are safer and healthier ways to protect your heart, including eating a healthy, balanced diet and stopping smoking.
Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Although very low levels of alcohol may have some protective effects against coronary heart disease this is more than outweighed by the adverse effects of alcohol on other organs.
The BHF has never advised anyone to take up drinking to protect their heart. There are much better ways of achieving this through exercise, diet, not smoking and attention to risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels
If you’re worried about your relationship with drugs or alcohol, reach out to someone who’s been there and can help. Call Port of Call for free on 08000029010 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for specialised addiction support. We can help find the right rehab for you.