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How Does Alcohol Affect the Heart Rate?
Heart Health

How Does Alcohol Affect the Heart Rate?

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on 2022 August 11
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5 min

Alcohol can have many negative effects on your body, but can it damage your heart in the long term? Learning about your own heart rate is important for maintaining overall health. We explain how alcohol might affect the body, including tips to slow your heart down.

how does alcohol affect the heart rate

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One night, you drank some alcohol, only to find that your heart was going crazy. Some people might be worried about this, but it’s perfectly normal after alcohol consumption.

Many people don’t realize how alcohol really interacts with each organ. It can strain your entire body and leave short or long-term side effects, like a rapid heart rate. Dehydration is usually the main cause of this, but an irregular heartbeat typically stems from consuming stimulants.

Alcohol is a heart-straining drink that may increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Each sip you take puts that extra bit of stress on your heart. You might be wondering – does alcohol trigger a fast heartbeat? Are there ways to slow it down after a night of drinking?

In this article, you’ll discover how alcohol affects the heart rate.

Does Alcohol Increase the Heart Rate?

Yes, alcohol increases the heart rate due to stress on your cardiovascular system. Consuming these beverages will lead to dehydration – a condition that decreases the amount of blood content in your body and encourages the heart to pump blood quickly.

Drinking too much alcohol can trigger an irregular cardiac rhythm. Even having one standard drink, like 5fl oz of red wine, may elevate your heart rate by 5 beats per minute. This number will soon go up if you have more than 2–3 standard drinks in a short amount of time.

Regular heavy drinking might also cause episodes of tachycardia – a medical term that refers to a heart rate over 100 beats per minute. This is due to a problem in sending electrical signals to produce a heartbeat. Tachycardia might lead to heart attacks, strokes, and sometimes death.

How Does Alcohol Affect the Heart Rate?

Alcohol can disrupt the electrical signals that keep your heart beating at the right pace. This may increase the heart rate and cause atrial fibrillation – a very rapid heart rhythm that raises the chance of getting a blood clot, stroke, or specific heart disease. 

During drinking, alcohol can temporarily spike your heart rate and blood pressure, especially if you exceed the guidelines. Although this might only last for a short while, it can still cause many health problems – one being an increased risk of cardiac arrest

Small blood vessels in your intestine carry the alcohol to your bloodstream. This is when your blood alcohol concentration increases, leading to a faster heart rate. The heart is specifically trying to pump extra blood throughout the body to prevent serious organ failure.

If your heart pumps blood with more force, this can also cause high blood pressure. Too much pressure hardens and thickens artery walls. The heart will then work double-time to compensate, which is why you might have a quick heart rate after alcohol consumption. 

Alcoholic cardiomyopathy might also occur due to episodes of binge drinking. Your heart changes shape over time and can’t function properly. A pounding heart rate is usually the first symptom of this condition, as your body struggles to pump blood efficiently. 

How to Slow the Heart Rate After Drinking Alcohol

A high alcohol intake can put a strain on your cardiovascular system. This may trigger an abnormal heart rhythm that doesn’t slow down. There are several ways you can decrease the risk of high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, holiday heart syndrome, and heart failure.

Let’s take a look at 3 ways you can slow your heart rate down:

#1 Drink more water

Heavy drinking can seriously dehydrate your body and raise blood pressure. One way to overcome this is by drinking lots of water. You need water to help blood flow more smoothly throughout the body. This should slow the heart rate down after consuming alcoholic drinks. 

Those who drink alcohol regularly might also get serious constipation. Straining to pass stool contributes to a fast heart rate, further increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. If you drink plenty of water after the big night out, you should notice fewer uncomfortable bowel movements.

Aim to consume at least 8 cups of water if you’re a woman and 10 cups if you’re a man. This should be enough to keep your body hydrated after a few drinks.

#2 Consume electrolytes

Electrolytes are the minerals sodium, calcium, and potassium that support many key functions in your body. You need these electrolytes to keep cells healthy enough to regulate chemical reactions. People who participate in excessive drinking usually lose both potassium and salt

There are plenty of foods that balance electrolytes again. You can eat spinach, pickles, lentils, bananas, watermelon, dried apricots, and sunflower seeds to restore those electrolytes. It may also be worth drinking unsweetened coconut water to reduce your hangover symptoms.

Some people buy electrolyte-infused waters to get their intake quickly. Just make sure not to go overboard with these products, as calcium might cause constipation. Painful bowel movements may worsen your hangover and lead to vomiting, headaches, and hot flashes.

The recommended daily intake for each electrolyte is less than 2,300mg for sodium, 2,500mg for calcium, and 3,500mg for potassium. 

#3 Do not use any stimulants 

Consuming stimulants like coffee, energy drinks, and nicotine can actually increase your heart rate more. This is a bad idea if you want to slow down your heartbeat after excessive drinking. Drinking caffeine after waking up with a hangover might be tempting, but try to avoid doing this. 

You should only consume water and healthy foods to reduce your heart rate. Grabbing an energy drink to feel better could trigger serious heart and blood vessel problems. Heart rhythm disturbances often lead to a weakened heart muscle, irregular heartbeat, or heart attack.

Do Heart Palpitations From Alcohol Go Away?

Yes, heart palpitations after moderate drinking will go away. Your heart needs time to settle down and adjust. However, consuming alcohol regularly could lead to long-term heart palpitations. You should limit these drinks to prevent serious heart disease. 

Heart palpitations that last longer than a few days may bring about ventricular tachycardia – a heart rhythm problem caused by malfunctioning electric signals. You should speak to a doctor if you experience regular issues with your heart, as it can be a sign of a serious health problem.

If you want to reduce those heart palpitations, try relaxation techniques or go for a long run to restore the heart’s natural beat. The benefits of running can help relieve stress from drinking alcohol. Just make sure to take it easy and always consult with a medical professional first. 

FAQs

Can alcohol cause a heart attack?

Yes, drinking too much alcohol can trigger a heart attack. This is especially true for people who regularly drink and have high blood pressure. You should limit how much you consume in one sitting. If you can, avoid drinking alcohol completely, or only have it during special occasions.

Is beer bad for your heart?

Beer is bad for heart health due to toxic ingredients that promote weight gain and clog your arteries. Having too much can damage the heart and its normal functions. It might be worth limiting this drink, or any type of alcoholic beverage, to maintain heart health.

Can alcohol cause heart palpitations the next day?

Heart palpitations from drinking alcohol can last at least 24 hours before settling down. This is due to the alcohol stimulating your internal nervous system. An irregular heartbeat can be uncomfortable, so try to drink lots of water and refrain from consuming any other stimulants.

A Word From Our RD

People who drink alcohol regularly could damage their heart muscle and have an increased heart rate. This is especially dangerous since long-term alcohol use can cause certain heart problems. It’s better to stop drinking completely or limit how much you drink each week.

The effects of alcohol may not be serious for healthy adults, but it can still increase heart rate over the next 48 hours. Deep breathing, drinking more water, avoiding stimulants, and performing daily running exercises could reduce how fast your heart beats.

Just remember to speak to a doctor if you’re concerned about your heart. A medical professional can advise on the best solution for managing a fast heart rate. If you can, stick to moderate drinking rather than excessively drinking alcohol on a weekly basis.

Conclusion 

Heavy drinking is a big risk factor for heart conditions that disrupt your life. 

Regular alcohol use may cause a temporary increase in your heart rate. This might lead to heart palpitations that last a few days. To avoid damaging the cardiovascular system, limit your alcoholic drinks or stop consuming them entirely if you already suffer from a condition.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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