Diabetes, Heart, and Cardiovascular Diseases News Chronicle.
Article 340   Published on July 21, 2018

A Shocking Study Shows What Alcohol Really Does To Your Heart


A number of earlier studies shows a moderate level of alcohol consumption may benefit the health of the heart but an excess level of alcohol consumption may cause severe heart complications such as a heart failure. A patient may require a heart transplantation in some extreme cases. The NHS says an individual should drink less than or equal to 14 units (10 glasses of wine or six pints of beer) of alcohol in a week.

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A link between alcohol consumption, titin gene and heart diseases such as a dilated alcoholic cardiomyopathy.

A current study has found that genetics will play a role in the worsening of heart failure. The study shows an association between alcohol consumption, faulty version of the titin gene and a number of heart diseases such as a dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and alcoholic cardiomyopathy (ACM). The study found an increased risk of heart failure in some people as the faulty version of the titin gene interacts with consumed alcoholic beverages.

The titin gene is essential to maintain the elasticity of the cardiac muscle. About one percent of the population may carry the faulty version of the titin gene.

Researchers say that the alcoholic cardiomyopathy (ACM) disease is not just due to alcohol intoxication (also known as alcohol poisoning or drunkenness). The genetic predisposition (or genetic susceptibility) may also contribute to a heart failure.

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When the researchers compared the heart of the patients with a faulty version of the titin gene and alcoholic cardiomyopathy (ACM) and the heart of the healthy people by using MRI scan, they observed the following.

  • An increase in the length of the heart.
  • Swelling of the heart.
  • An increase in the volume of the left ventricle, the main pumping chamber of the heart.
  • Reduction in the thickness of heart walls.
  • The overall reduction in the blood pumping action of the heart.
  • An elongation of heart muscles.

Researchers have conducted an analytical study on 141 patients with alcoholic cardiomyopathy (ACM). The study shows a higher percentage of titin gene mutations in about 13.5 percent of the patients with alcoholic cardiomyopathy (ACM) when compared to the general population.

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Researchers also conducted a study to find out the role of alcohol consumption in the dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). The study has found 12 percent of the dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in the heart disease patients are due to the faulty titin gene mutations.

Researchers have collected information on the amount of alcohol consumption from 716 patients with the dilated cardiomyopathy. The data shows none of them have consumed a high level of alcohol to trigger a dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). The study has found the weakening of ability of the heart to pump blood due to the faulty titin gene mutations, even with a moderate increase in alcohol consumption. The study has found 30 percent of the reduction in the blood pumping ability of the heart with the excess alcohol consumption in the patients with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) with a faulty titin gene mutations when compared to the patients with the same disease but without a faulty titin gene mutations.

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This study suggests that alcohol consumption may weaken the elasticity of cardiac muscle tissue and aggravate the heart failure in some people carrying the faulty version of the titin gene.

To find out the causes of a dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) or an alcoholic cardiomyopathy (ACM) in a patient, doctors should check the family history and conduct a test for the presence of the gene related to the heart diseases, particularly for the presence of the faulty titin gene.

The genetic susceptibility may put the other family members also at a higher risk of heart failure. Authors say the family members of a patient with the dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) or the alcoholic cardiomyopathy (ACM) disease should undergo a heart scan and a genetic testing to know whether they are carrying the titin gene mutations.

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Authors say a further research is required to find out the diseases (other than the heart diseases) caused due to alcohol consumption in the people carrying a faulty titin gene. Researchers are also studying whether the use of some specific drugs (or a viral infection) by the people carrying a higher percentage of titin gene mutations can predispose them to the heart failure.

This research was done by the researchers from the following organizations.

  • Royal Brompton Hospital.
  • Imperial College London.
  • MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences.

This study was supported by the following organizations.

  • The NIHR Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit.
  • The Department of Health and Social Care, United Kingdom.
  • The British Heart Foundation.
  • The Wellcome Trust, London, United Kingdom.
  • The Medical Research Council.

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The authors of the study were Dr. Paul Barton and Dr. James Ware, the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London. The study was published May 22, 2018, in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Title of the article was "Genetic Etiology for Alcohol-Induced Cardiac Toxicity."
DOI : doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2018.03.462

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Dilated cardiomyopathy : Weakened heart muscle fails in pumping blood throughout the body and is known as dilated cardiomyopathy.

Alcoholic cardiomyopathy : This heart condition arises when the left ventricle of the heart fails in pumping blood throughout the body due to chronic alcohol consumption.

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