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

A shocking study shows what alcohol really does to your heart

A number of earlier studies shows moderate levels of alcohol consumption may benefit heart health but excess levels of alcohol consumption may cause severe heart complications such as heart failure. A patient may require 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 per week.

A current study has found that genetics will play a role in the worsening of the heart failure condition. The study results show an association between alcohol consumption, faulty versions of the titin gene and heart diseases such as dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and alcoholic cardiomyopathy (ACM). They found an acceleration of heart failure events in some people as faulty versions of the titin gene interacts with the consumed alcohol.

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

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

When researchers compared hearts of patients with alcoholic cardiomyopathy (ACM) carrying faulty versions of the titin gene and hearts of healthy people by using MRI scan reports, they observed the following.

  • Increase in the length of the heart.
  • Swelling of the heart.
  • 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.
  • Elongated heart muscle.

Researchers have conducted analytical studies on 141 alcoholic cardiomyopathy (ACM) patients. The study shows a higher percentage of mutated titin genes in about 13.5 percent of alcoholic cardiomyopathy (ACM) patients compared to the general population.

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

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

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

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

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

Authors say further research is required to find out diseases other than heart diseases caused due to alcohol consumption in people carrying faulty titin gene. Researchers are also studying whether the use of some specific drugs or viral infections in people carrying a higher percentage of mutated titin genes predisposes them to 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.

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

The authors of the study were Dr. Paul Barton and Dr. James Ware, the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London. The study findings were 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 excess alcohol consumption.



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