Chest Pain After Drinking Alcohol

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Chest Pain After Drinking

If you have experienced chest pain after drinking, you are probably concerned, and rightly so. Heart pains may have many causes, and should always be checked out for peace of mind. If you’ve noticed on multiple occasions that the chest pain occurs after drinking, it could be directly related to alcohol.

Can Alcohol Cause Chest Pain?

Is the chest pain caused by alcohol, or is it a symptom of a heart attack? Alcohol is a toxic substance that can do major harm to not only the heart, but to multiple organs. If the chest pain follows one random night of heavy drinking, then chances are the pain is related to a heart attack. 

However, someone who chronically abuses alcohol may be inflicting daily harm to their heart due to alcohol’s toxic properties. Alcohol abuse over a prolonged period can affect the heart in many ways. The chest pain may be a symptom of a heart attack, or it could be indicative of other forms of heart damage. In either scenario, it is essential to get the heart examined by a doctor.

Causes of Chest Pain After Drinking Alcohol

It may be surprising to learn the many causes of alcohol-related chest pain. Consider these:

  1. Increased blood pressure. Even though alcohol is a depressant, it can cause blood pressure to rise, which can cause irregular heartbeat and angina.
  2. Acid reflux. This is the most common cause of chest pain, and it is often triggered by alcohol. Reflux damages the muscle that connects the stomach to the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest.
  3. Alcohol-induced anxiety. While drinking alcohol may have relaxing effects, it also affects the neurotransmitters in the brain. Someone who struggles with anxiety may find their symptoms worsen after a drink, including chest pain.
  4. Heart damage. Chronic heavy drinking can lead to various forms of long-term heart damage. These include weakened heart muscles, high cholesterol, or an irregular heartbeat. The heart damage may lead to symptoms of alcohol-related chest pain.

How Alcohol Can Harm the Heart

Long-term heavy drinking is very hard on the heart. Examples of heart damage caused by alcohol abuse include:

  • Cardiomyopathy. This is when the heart muscle becomes weakened, which affects the heart’s ability to pump blood.
  • Heart arrhythmia. Alcohol abuse can result in atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia.
  • Hypertophy. Over time alcohol causes thickening in the left ventricle, which limits intake of oxygen to the heart.
  • Coronary artery disease. Alcohol can contribute to obesity, arterial disease and heart attacks.
  • Heart failure. When the heart can no longer pump blood to meet the demands of the body.

Other Long-Term Health Effects of Drinking

Alcohol abuse doesn’t only harm the heart. Damage to health due to heavy drinking can also occur in these ways:

  • Liver disease. Because alcohol is processed in the liver, too much alcohol can lead to liver disease. These include fatty liver, fibrosis, hepatitis, and cirrhosis.
  • Brain damage. Chronic alcohol abuse harms the brain, causing brain cell death, dementia, thiamine deficiency, and loss of blood flow.
  • Cancers. Alcohol abuse increases the risk for cancer, including cancers of the oral, throat, esophageal, colon, breast, rectal, liver, and pancreas.
  • Reduced immunity. Alcohol abuse weakens the body’s immune system, leaving the person more prone to diseases like pneumonia or tuberculosis.
  • Disease of the pancreas. Alcohol is toxic to the pancreas, which can result in pancreatitis or type-2 diabetes.
  • Injuries. Alcohol intoxication may cause a loss of balance and slowed reactions leading to accidental injuries.

How to Reduce Chest Pains 

If your doctor has determined there are no heart problems present, you can breathe a sigh of relief. To reduce or prevent chest pain, try these tips:

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  1. Avoid alcohol. If you even suspect that alcohol might be causing the chest pain, it is time to eliminate it from your routine.
  2. Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can put strain on the stomach, which can trigger acid reflux.
  3. Get regular exercise. Create a new fitness routine to improve overall health, but especially heart health.
  4. Eat a healthy diet. Certain foods, such as spicy, fatty, or acidic foods, may contribute to the chest pain. 
  5. Manage stress better. Learn to manage stress through holistic methods instead of alcohol. Try deep breathing techniques, yoga, and meditation to help you relax.
  6. Obtain treatment for underlying problem. If you quit drinking and the problem persists, it is time for your doctor to take a deeper look at what is causing the pain.
  7. Quit smoking. Smoking is a known factor in cardiovascular and respiratory disease.
  8. Elevate your head while sleeping. Sleeping with the head slightly elevated can reduce the backflow of stomach acid, or acid reflux.

Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder

If your doctor identifies a heart problem, or the chest pain continues after drinking, it is time to quit alcohol. If you have an alcohol use disorder, it may not be so easy to just quit. In fact, if you are alcohol dependent it is too risky to quit drinking on your own. Enroll in a residential treatment program for the medical oversight and support you’ll need.

Treatment for alcohol dependence or addiction is multi-faceted. It will involve three main steps: alcohol detox, rehabilitation, and aftercare actions:

Detox. You will undergo the detox and withdrawal step under the careful guidance of a medical detox team. The detox experts manage the withdrawal symptoms with the help of meds and emotional support.

Rehab. During treatment you are guided toward acquiring new lifestyle habits to help you sustain your sobriety over the long term. Alcohol Rehab involves various forms of psychotherapy, holistic methods, and the 12-step program.

Aftercare. Once you have completed treatment, you will continue to engage in activities that support recovery. These include outpatient therapy, sober living, and joining a local 12-step or similar support group.

If you have chest pain after drinking, it is time to address the problem and take control of your health. Reach out for help today.

Capo by the Sea Leading Source of Support for Alcohol Recovery

Capo by the Sea offers comprehensive medical care to help you overcome a drinking problem. Our expert team will guide you through detox and treatment and help you start a healthier life. Call us today at (888) 529-2114