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Genetic factors increase chance of suffering from alcohol-related heart issues, finds study

Excessive alcohol consumption has been associated with a host of health-related conditions, including high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases, often leaving one knocking the doors of alcohol addiction support centers. One such disease is alcoholic cardiomyopathy (ACM) that affects the normal functioning of the heart and hinders its ability to pump blood. Given that excessive alcohol use alone does not lead to ACM, a group of Spanish scientists decided to explore any underlying genetic and environmental factors behind ACM susceptibility. According to the results published online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC), genetics may play a key factor in increasing one’s susceptibility to getting ACM.

For their research, the scientists recruited 141 unrelated patients afflicted with ACM from six Spanish hospitals, 716 patients with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) enrolled in the Royal Brompton Hospital Cardiovascular Research Centre Biobank and 445 healthy controls without any cardiovascular diseases. To examine the effects of genetics on ACM, the researchers examined cases for the presence of rare, protein-altering variants in nine genes known to cause DCM and compared their frequency between ACM cases, DCM cases and healthy controls.

According to the researchers, compared to healthy controls, protein-altering variants were found to be more prevalent in ACM patients. In fact, the researchers were able to examine 20 distinct variants in 19 ACM cases involving four different genes. The ACM patients also showed a predominant burden (9.9 percent) of truncating variants in the TTN gene (TTNtv), similar to the frequency observed in DCM controls and higher than the frequency observed in healthy controls. The truncating variants are known to be the leading genetic cause of DCM.

As per the study, patients of alcohol-related cardiomyopathy should undergo genetic testing and clinical screening to identify family members at risk of developing DCM. In addition, ACM patients who completely abstained from alcohol were also shown to have lower left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) recovery irrespective of their TTNtv status. At present, ACM symptoms are being treated with a combination of medication (heart-failure medication) and the patients are advised to practice complete abstinence from alcohol. Although the study was able to identify the role of genetics in one’s susceptibility to getting ACM, it had a number of limitations including the study participants’ self-reporting their alcohol consumption and a lack of control group that drank heavily but never developed ACM.

Recovery from alcohol addiction

While an occasional drink or two might not be a cause of concern, long-term and excessive alcohol use can harm one’s health and relationships, disrupt one’s professional life, cause legal troubles and even contribute to accidents. According to a 2017 study, published in the JAMA Psychiatry, nearly one out of every eight Americans is struggling with an alcohol disorder. Another interesting fact that the study revealed was that alcohol use disorder (AUD) was a growing problem among senior citizens, 65 years and older. This group witnessed 106.7 percent increase in AUDs from 2002/2003 to 2012/2013. However, the need of the hour is to spread awareness about the harmful health effects of alcoholism.

If you know someone battling alcohol addiction and looking for a comprehensive treatment plan, look no further. All you need to do is reach out to our 24/7 Recovery Helpline and our representatives will help you learn more about addiction, identify the symptoms and explore the best alcohol addiction treatment options basis your needs. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number (855) 441-4405 or chat online with experts to get connected to the finest alcohol abuse treatment centers near you.

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