Font Size
A
A
A

Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy


Topic Overview

Alcoholic cardiomyopathy is caused by long-term alcohol abuse. The heart muscle is weakened and cannot pump blood efficiently, leading to heart failure.

Symptoms are the result of heart failure and include fatigue, shortness of breath, swelling, and cough. Muscular weakness may also be present because of the effect of alcohol on muscles (alcoholic myopathy).

Hospitalization may be required if there is alcohol dependency. Quitting drinking often results in improved heart function. Continued alcohol consumption, on the other hand, will continue to make heart failure worse. Treatment also often includes standard treatment for heart failure, such as lifestyle changes and medicines.

Alcohol in excessive quantities has a directly toxic effect on heart muscle cells. Also, people who abuse alcohol often have poor diets and vitamin deficiencies that in turn damage the heart.

Related Information

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerGeorge Philippides, MD - Cardiology
Last RevisedJuly 28, 2010

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

To learn more visit Healthwise.org

© 1995-2012 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.






Medical Dictionary