Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Alcoholic Heart Failure Overview

Another name for Alcoholic Heart Failure is Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy.

What is alcoholic cardiomyopathy?
A person with alcoholic cardiomyopathy has a weakened heart, caused by the toxic effect of alcohol on the heart muscle. Over time, alcohol damages and weakens the heart muscle: the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the needs of the tissues in the body. Alcoholic cardiomyopathy results in congestive heart failure.

What are the symptoms of alcoholic cardiomyopathy?
Early symptoms of alcoholic cardiomyopathy include cough, weakness, and fatigue. Additional symptoms of alcoholic cardiomyopathy include leg swelling, weight gain, difficulty breathing when lying flat, increasing shortness of breath with activity, and waking in the middle of the night short of breath.

How does the doctor treat alcoholic cardiomyopathy?
Treatment for alcoholic cardiomyopathy includes medications that remove excess water from the body and encourage the heart to pump more effectively. Additional treatment includes fluid restriction, and a diet that is low in salt, fat, and cholesterol.

Continue to Alcoholic Heart Failure Incidence

Last Updated: Oct 20, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Alcoholic Heart Failure References
  1. Demakis JG, Proskey A, Rahimtoola SH, et al: The natural course of alcoholic cardiomyopathy. Ann Intern Med 1974 Mar; 80(3): 293-7. [4273902]
  2. Estruch R, Fernandez-Sola J, Sacanella E, et al: Relationship between cardiomyopathy and liver disease in chronic alcohol abuse. Hepatology 1995 Aug; 22(2): 532-8. [7635421]
  3. Fernandez-Sola J, Estruch R, Nicolas JM, et al: Comparison of alcoholic cardiomyopathy in women versus men. Am J Cardiol 1997 Aug 15; 80(4): 481-5. [9285662]
  4. Lee WK, Regan TJ. Alcoholic cardiomyopathy: is it dose-dependent? Congest Heart Fail. 2002 Nov-Dec;8(6):303-6. [12461319]
  5. McKenna CJ, Codd MB, McCann HA, Sugrue DD: Alcohol consumption and idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy: a case control study. Am Heart J 1998 May; 135: 833-7. [9588413]
  6. Patel VB, Why HJ, Richardson PJ, Preedy VR: The effects of alcohol on the heart. Adverse Drug React Toxicol Rev 1997 Mar; 16(1): 15-43. [9192055]
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