Alcoholic cardiomyopathy is caused by long-term heavy alcohol use. It is a type of dilated cardiomyopathy. The heart muscle is weakened and cannot pump blood efficiently. If your heart gets weaker, you may develop heart failure. Alcohol in excessive quantities has a directly toxic effect on heart muscle cells.
Symptoms are the result of the weakened heart muscle. Symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, swelling, and cough. Muscular weakness may also be present because of the effect of alcohol on muscles (alcoholic myopathy).
Treatment includes quitting drinking. Quitting drinking often results in improved heart function. Continued heavy alcohol use, on the other hand, will continue to make alcoholic cardiomyopathy worse. Treatment includes medicines and lifestyle changes.
Current as of: September 7, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Rakesh K. Pai MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
George Philippides MD - Cardiology