Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy

Advertiser Disclosure

alcoholic cardiomyopathy

Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy is a form of heart disease caused by long-term heavy alcohol use. It’s a type of dilated cardiomyopathy, meaning the heart’s main pumping chamber, the left ventricle, becomes enlarged and weakened.

This condition can affect other parts of the heart as well, leading to a variety of complications. As the disease progresses, the heart becomes less able to pump blood effectively, leading to symptoms such as:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling of the legs, ankles, and feet
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting

The severity and progression of alcoholic cardiomyopathy are closely related to the amount and duration of alcohol consumption. Drinking large amounts of alcohol (especially more than 6 to 7 drinks per day over many years) significantly increases the risk of developing this condition.

Treatment for alcoholic cardiomyopathy involves lifestyle changes, medications, and sometimes procedures or surgery. The most critical step in treatment is to stop drinking alcohol completely. This can help prevent further damage to your heart and may even reverse some of the effects of the disease.

Medications may be used to help the heart pump better, reduce symptoms, and treat complications. In severe cases, devices such as pacemakers or defibrillators may be needed, or even a heart transplant in extreme circumstances.

It’s important to note that early detection and treatment can improve the outlook for people with alcoholic cardiomyopathy. If you’re concerned about your drinking and its potential impact on your heart health, it’s important to talk to your doctor.


  1. Healthline – Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
818uQzv7y L. AC SX679


What Causes Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy?

Alcoholic cardiomyopathy is a form of heart disease caused by chronic and heavy alcohol consumption.

Long-term alcohol abuse weakens and thins the heart muscle, affecting its ability to pump blood effectively. This condition is a type of dilated cardiomyopathy, where the heart’s main pumping chamber – the left ventricle – becomes enlarged and weakened.

The severity and progression of the disease are closely tied to the amount and duration of alcohol consumption. Drinking large amounts of alcohol (especially more than 6 to 7 drinks per day over many years) significantly increases the risk of developing this condition.

In addition to alcohol, other factors can contribute to the development of dilated cardiomyopathy, but in the case of alcoholic cardiomyopathy, alcohol is the primary cause.

Treatment typically involves complete abstinence from alcohol, along with medications to help manage symptoms and improve heart function. In severe cases, surgical procedures or devices may be needed to support heart function.


  1. StatPearls – Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy
  2. Healthline – Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
  3. UpToDate – Alcohol-induced cardiomyopathy
  4. PMC – Alcoholic cardiomyopathy
  5. Wikipedia – Alcoholic cardiomyopathy
  6. ScienceDirect – Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy
  7. Medscape – Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy: Overview, Cardiac Effects of Alcohol
  8. AHA Journals – Alcohol Intake in Patients With Cardiomyopathy and Heart Failure
7142eJbTIkL. AC SL1500


How long does it take to Develop Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy?

The development time of alcoholic cardiomyopathy can vary greatly from person to person and depends on several factors, including the amount of alcohol consumed, the frequency of consumption, and individual genetic factors.

However, research suggests that individuals who consume more than 80 grams of alcohol per day over a prolonged period are at a higher risk for the development of alcoholic cardiomyopathy.

It’s important to note that this is a high level of alcohol consumption, equivalent to approximately six or more standard drinks per day.

It’s also worth noting that damage to the heart from alcohol can start much earlier, even at lower levels of consumption. Over time, this damage can accumulate and lead to the development of alcoholic cardiomyopathy.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a specific timeframe that applies to everyone. The disease can develop after many years of heavy drinking, but it may also appear in individuals who have been heavy drinkers for a shorter period.

If you’re concerned about your alcohol consumption and its potential impact on your heart health, it’s important to talk to a healthcare professional. They can provide guidance based on your personal health history and current drinking habits.


What are the 4 signs of Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy?

Alcoholic cardiomyopathy, a form of heart disease caused by long-term heavy alcohol use, can present with a variety of signs and symptoms. Here are four key signs to look out for:

  1. Shortness of Breath: As the heart’s ability to pump blood efficiently deteriorates, individuals may experience shortness of breath, even during rest or with minimal activity.
  2. Fatigue or Weakness: The body may not receive enough oxygen-rich blood due to the weakened heart muscle, leading to feelings of tiredness or weakness.
  3. Swelling: Fluid may accumulate in the body due to the heart’s reduced pumping capacity, causing swelling (edema) in the legs, ankles, and feet. This could also result in ascites, a buildup of fluid in the abdomen.
  4. Irregular Heartbeats: Alcoholic cardiomyopathy can cause arrhythmias or irregular heartbeats. This can feel like the heart is racing, throbbing, or fluttering.

These symptoms can be similar to other forms of heart disease, so it’s important to seek medical advice if you’re experiencing any of these signs, especially if you have a history of heavy drinking.


64d33440 b049 46aa 9d02 4fa9dc3354de. CR0,0,970,300 PT0 SX970 V1


How do you know if Someone Has Cardiomyopathy?

Diagnosing cardiomyopathy, including alcoholic cardiomyopathy, usually involves several steps:

  1. Medical History: A healthcare provider will start by asking about personal and family medical history, including any symptoms the patient may be experiencing and lifestyle factors such as alcohol consumption.
  2. Physical Examination: The doctor will conduct a physical examination, which may include listening to the heart and lungs for any abnormal sounds that could indicate poor heart function.
  3. Diagnostic Tests: Several tests can be used to diagnose cardiomyopathy, including:
    • Electrocardiogram (ECG): This test records the electrical activity of the heart and can help detect irregular heart rhythms.
    • Echocardiogram: This ultrasound test produces images of the heart’s structure and shows how well the heart is functioning.
    • Cardiac MRI: This imaging test provides detailed images of the heart and can help determine the extent of damage to the heart muscle.
    • Blood Tests: These can help rule out other conditions that might cause similar symptoms.
  4. Cardiac Catheterization: In some cases, a procedure known as cardiac catheterization may be performed. This involves inserting a thin tube into a blood vessel that leads to your heart. This allows doctors to measure the pressure and flow in the heart’s chambers and see if the heart is pumping properly.
  5. Biopsy: In rare cases, a small sample of heart tissue might be taken for examination under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis.

It’s important to note that while these tests can indicate the presence of cardiomyopathy, they cannot specifically identify the cause. If alcoholic cardiomyopathy is suspected, a thorough assessment of the individual’s drinking habits would also be needed.

If someone is experiencing symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling in the legs, or irregular heartbeats – particularly if they have a history of heavy drinking – they should seek medical attention.


How long does it take to reverse alcoholic cardiomyopathy?

The length of time it takes to reverse alcoholic cardiomyopathy can vary greatly depending on individual factors such as the extent of heart damage, overall health, and adherence to lifestyle changes. The primary treatment for alcoholic cardiomyopathy is abstinence from alcohol.

A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that after a year of abstinence, about 40% of patients showed significant improvement in heart function.

However, some individuals may start seeing improvements within a few months of stopping drinking, while others may take several years.

It’s important to note that while improvement can occur with abstinence, not all damage may be reversible, particularly if the disease has progressed significantly. In severe cases, heart transplantation may be necessary.

In addition to abstinence from alcohol, treatment usually involves medications to help manage symptoms and prevent further heart damage, as well as lifestyle modifications such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, and avoiding tobacco.

Regular follow-up with a healthcare provider is crucial for monitoring progress and adjusting treatment as necessary.


206887ee 2fc7 414d b072 6dd95459748f. CR0,0,1464,600 PT0 SX1464 V1


What is the life Expectancy of Someone with Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy?

The life expectancy for someone with alcoholic cardiomyopathy can vary greatly depending on several factors, including the severity of the disease at the time of diagnosis, the individual’s overall health, their response to treatment, and most importantly, whether they can abstain from alcohol.

A study published in the Journal of Cardiac Failure found that among patients hospitalized with alcoholic cardiomyopathy, the median survival was around 4 years.

However, the study also found that patients who were able to abstain from alcohol had significantly longer survival compared to those who continued to drink.

It should be noted that these statistics are average figures and individual prognosis can vary widely. Early detection and treatment, along with lifestyle modifications, can significantly improve outcomes and potentially extend life expectancy.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with alcoholic cardiomyopathy, it’s important to discuss the prognosis with a healthcare provider who is familiar with the individual’s specific situation.


7641e4c2 9f66 4f0b b5ce 368ef651cd41. CR0,0,970,300 PT0 SX970 V1


Treatment options for Cardiomyopathy

Treatment options for cardiomyopathy depend on the type of cardiomyopathy, the severity of your symptoms and complications as well as your overall health. Here are some general treatment strategies:

  1. Lifestyle Changes: These include dietary changes, regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol intake, avoiding smoking, and managing stress.
  2. Medications: Depending on the type of cardiomyopathy and the symptoms, various medications can be used, including:
    • Beta blockers to slow the heart rate and reduce blood pressure
    • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors to lower blood pressure and improve heart function
    • Diuretics to remove excess fluid and sodium from the body
    • Anticoagulants to reduce the risk of blood clots
    • Antiarrhythmics to control heart rhythm problems
  3. Non-surgical Procedures:
    • Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT): This involves implanting a device that sends small electrical impulses to both lower chambers of the heart to help them beat together in a more synchronized pattern.
    • Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD): This device monitors the heart rhythm and delivers electric shocks when necessary to control abnormal heart rhythms.
  4. Surgery: In severe cases, surgical procedures may be necessary. These can include:
    • Septal myectomy: A procedure that removes part of the thickened heart muscle that is blocking blood flow in people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
    • Heart transplant: In cases where the heart is severely damaged and other treatments aren’t effective, a heart transplant may be considered.
  5. Alcohol Abstinence: For alcoholic cardiomyopathy, complete abstinence from alcohol is a crucial part of treatment.

Remember, it’s very important to work closely with your healthcare provider to manage cardiomyopathy, and treatment plans should be individualized based on each person’s specific situation.


In conclusion, cardiomyopathy is a serious heart condition that can significantly impact a person’s life. Its treatment varies depending on the type and severity of the condition, as well as the individual’s overall health.

Options range from lifestyle changes and medication to surgical procedures. For alcoholic cardiomyopathy specifically, abstaining from alcohol is crucial. The prognosis of these conditions can vary widely,

but early detection, appropriate treatment, and lifestyle modifications can improve outcomes. Anyone diagnosed with cardiomyopathy needs to work closely with their healthcare provider to manage their condition effectively.

Disclosure Statement: At, we are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. This means that when you purchase through our affiliate links, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Newsletter Signup Form
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.