Cardiovascular Disease & Stroke

Studies have reported that alcohol consumption is related to both protective and harmful effects on cardiovascular health, depending on the level of consumption and other factors. According to NIH, “drinking a lot over a long time or too much on a single occasion can damage the heart.”1

The Surgeon General’s Report further elaborates on some specific cardiovascular problems: “Studies have shown alcohol misuse use can lead to cardiovascular problems including heart muscle injury, irregular heartbeat, stroke, and high blood pressure.”2

Similarly, the American Heart Association states that “drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure, and increase your risk for cardiomyopathy, stroke, cancer and other diseases. It can also contribute to high triglycerides, and produce irregular heartbeats.” 

Some studies have also reported a cardiovascular benefit related to moderate alcohol consumption.  The American Heart Association states “there is a protective benefit to moderate alcohol consumption . . . Some studies have shown that those who drink moderate amounts of alcohol have lower rates of heart disease than nondrinkers. . . The best-known positive health effect of alcohol is a small increase in HDL, or good cholesterol.”3

Similarly, the Mayo Clinic offers that: “Moderate alcohol consumption may provide some health benefits, such as:

  • Reducing your risk of developing and dying of heart disease
  • Possibly reducing your risk of ischemic stroke (when the arteries to your brain become narrowed or blocked, causing severely reduced blood flow)
  • Possibly reducing your risk of diabetes”4

The Mayo Clinic explains that “research has shown that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol can benefit your heart health. For most people, drinking larger than moderate amounts of alcohol does not significantly raise the risk of heart problems, but it can lead to other serious health concerns . . . Moderate alcohol intake can lower inflammation throughout your body, as well, and that can also have a positive effect on your cardiovascular system. These factors combine to result in a lower rate of cardiovascular disease in people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol than in people who do not drink alcohol at all. In addition to the heart benefits, moderate alcohol intake can slightly lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.”5

Find research articles and learn more at PubMed:


  1. Alcohol’s Effects on the Body | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) (
  2. The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health
  3. Is drinking alcohol part of a healthy lifestyle? | American Heart Association
  4. Alcohol use: Weighing risks and benefits – Mayo Clinic
  5. Mayo Clinic Q and A: Moderate alcohol intake has positive effects on heart health, but too much causes other serious health concerns – Mayo Clinic News Network