Binge drinking can make your heart beat irregularly
Sometimes known as ‘Holiday Heart Syndrome’, binge drinking can make your heart beat irregularly. It gets its name because cases are more common around holiday times or after weekends, when people tend to drink more.6
Holiday Heart Syndrome tends to come on after episodes of heavy drinking – typically at least 15 units (about seven and a half pints of 4% beer or one and a half bottles of 13% wine) in a 24-hour period.
The irregular heart beat caused by holiday heart syndrome will make you feel breathless, tired and affect your blood pressure. These factors together may make you feel quite unwell as well as increasing the risk of a heart attack or sudden death.6
How much alcohol is a binge?
Can alcohol have any benefits for your heart?
There is some evidence that low levels of alcohol consumption can be protective against coronary heart disease, but only in a specific section of the population – women over 50 years of age.
Even for women over 50, the risks of harm from alcohol outweigh any small benefit. The evidence for the small benefit to heart health doesn’t justify drinking to protect your heart.
This protective effect is only seen with low levels of alcohol consumption (not more than one unit a day) and doesn’t appear to be dependent on the type of alcoholic drink – for example, there is no evidence that red wine offers extra protection.7
At all levels of alcohol consumption above one unit a day the protective effect disappears and there is instead an increased risk of coronary heart disease.
However, even low-level drinking increases the risks of other very serious illnesses including other types of heart disease, several types of cancer, brain damage, pancreatitis and alcohol-related liver disease. The safest level of drinking is to drink no alcohol at all.8,9