A new study published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal looked at 30,000 adults in 40 countries with a median age of 66 and found that just a few drinks of alcohol can put someone who suffers from diabetes and heart disease at risk for arrhythmia.
During an arrhythmia the heartbeat becomes irregular, beating too slow or fast. For those with heart disease and diabetes, an arrhythmia can be life threatening as the heart may not be able to pump enough blood to the body. The lack of blood flow can damage the brain, heart, and other organs. Particularly, those with arrhythmia are at higher risk of stroke. The study followed subjects in two research trials who had congestive heart failure and high blood pressure. They found those who drink more, but still moderately, had higher rates of atrial fibrillation, which causes arrhythmia.
This study was published just as the company who manufactures the drink Four Loko came under fire in a lawsuit over a New Jersey man who blamed the drink for giving him an arrhythmia. Four Loko is known for being dangerously intoxicating as each can contains 12% alcohol and was once caffeinated. The beverage contained four ingredients – alcohol, caffeine, taurine and guarana until the FDA forced the manufacturer to drop the stimulants from the product. The man pursuing a lawsuit claimed that the 2 and ½ cans of Four Loco he consumed caused his heart arrhythmia.
Often, when people (like the New Jersey man) consume more than the recommended amount of alcohol, health consequences follow. Sometimes it is hard to determine if the abuse of alcohol is the root cause of health problems or just exacerbated by consumption. It is estimated that 1 in 6 people in the US have a drinking problem. One of the greatest indicators of problematic drinking is continuing to drink despite health consequences or drinking despite current health conditions, like diabetes and heart problems, that contraindicate drinking.
Ten other signs of alcoholism, alcohol abuse and problematic drinking include:
1. Drinking despite harmful consequences to one’s health, work, social and family relationships
2. Drinking alone
3. Becoming violent or depressed when drinking
4. Becoming hostile or dishonest when asked about drinking
5. Having an inability to control drinking – being unable to stop or reduce alcohol intake
6. Making excuses to drink or manufacturing dramatic situations to have an excuse to drink
7. Missing work or school or having inhibited productivity in work or school as a result of drinking
8. Stopping activities like going to the gym or church because of alcohol consumption
9. Trying to hide alcohol from friends, family and even health care professionals
10. Neglecting to eat or eating poorly – rationalizing spending money on alcohol but not on food or other necessitates