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Heart of a Hunter: Effects of alcohol on the heart

Moderation beats binge drinking during hunting season

Sitting around the campfire and rehashing the day’s hunting feats (or lack of them) often happens with a cold beer or other alcoholic drink in hand. Just be careful not to overdo it.

AlcoholBlogImage.fwConsuming alcohol in moderation, along with an overall healthy lifestyle, is acceptable for most people, says Dr. Michael Shea, who specializes in internal medicine and cardiovascular disease at the University of Michigan Health System. “Too much alcohol can cause direct damage to heart cells as well as nutritional and vitamin deficiencies,” he says.

In addition to being a depressant, alcohol dilates the blood vessels. Alcohol consumption, and particularly “binge” drinking can also lead to electrical conduction issues in the heart, a condition known as atrial fibrillation or “afib”.

The American Heart Association (AHA) advises moderation in drinking — in any environment. An average of one or two drinks per day is considered moderate for men; one drink per day for women.

Here’s how the AHA defines “one drink”:
• 12 ounces of beer
• 4 ounces of wine
• 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits
• 1 ounce of 100-proof spirits

Plus, drinking alcohol can lead to alcoholism, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, suicide and accidents.

Alcohol and accidents

The National Hunter Education Association (NHEA) strongly recommends hunters avoid consuming alcohol or other drugs while hunting or when handling firearms, and urges hunters not to hunt or shoot with anyone who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

According to the NHEA, alcohol affects your body’s mental and physical abilities and impairs many important skills for hunting safety:

Judgment: Ability to determine when to shoot and when not to shoot, and to recognize safe zones of fire
Coordination: Ability to safely handle firearms; cross obstacles or rough terrain; marksmanship; reaction time
Speech: Ability to communicate clearly with others in hunting party
Hearing: Ability to locate game
Vision: Ability to identify game

Take the next step:

  • Follow the Heart of a Hunter Series through October 25th here on the CVCHeartBeat Blog.
  • Enter here to win one of three giveaways, including a $50 Cabela’s card!

Frankel-informal-vertical-sigThe University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardivascular Center is the top-ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at www.umcvc.org.