Drinking large amount of alcohol over a long period of time can do immense and irreparable damage to most of the organs in your body. Alcohol has a toxic effect on the heart and may cause the condition known as alcoholic cardiomyopathy. Alcoholic cardiomyopathy thins out the heart muscles and enlarges the heart due to the excessive consumption of alcohol. The condition causes the muscles of the heart to function inefficiently and may even lead to heart failure.
Due to the stigma attached to alcohol abuse, many cases of alcoholic cardiomyopathy may remain untreated, as patients are not honest about their drinking habits. Remember if your doctor is not aware of your entire history, medical and otherwise, chances are he may not be able to treat your illness or even save your life.
The difficulty in diagnosing alcoholic cardiomyopathy is that most symptoms remain undetected until the disease has reached an advanced stage. Symptoms differ from stage to stage and include:
While many of these symptoms are common with other diseases, if the doctor is aware that the patient is a heavy drinker, then he is more likely to diagnose the condition accurately.
There is no known cure for alcoholic cardiomyopathy. Instead, treatment is aimed at controlling the symptoms and preventing the condition from worsening. Treatment needs to be monitored and changed according to the severity of the symptoms and the progression of the disease. A treatment plan for alcoholic cardiomyopathy may include:
An ideal diet for patients suffering from alcoholic cardiomyopathy involves:
A low-sodium diet, as increased salt leads to more water retention. In the case of patients with any form of cardiomyopathy, this can ultimately lead to heart failure. Doctors recommend no more than two grams of sodium per day.
As part of your treatment plan, it is also important that you monitor your symptoms closely and report any changes to your doctor. You will need to monitor your blood pressure, pulse rate, and blood sugar levels daily and report to your doctor any changes in readings.
The only possible way to stop the progress of the disease is to completely stop drinking. However, if the condition has been diagnosed in the later stages and there is already severe damage to the heart, the prognosis is not very encouraging.
Symptoms of alcoholic cardiomyopathy may reduce with the proper course of medication, the necessary lifestyle changes and no alcohol consumption. However recovery is never complete with such a condition.
In most cases, the disease is diagnosed only when the condition is severe. If at any point of time in your recovery, you notice new symptoms or the reappearance of old symptoms, consult your doctor immediately.