Moderate use of alcohol has been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by its affect on blood clotting. In small amounts, alcohol can decrease the clotting ability of platelets. The amount of alcohol, which is associated with beneficial effects ranges from 1 - 2½ drinks a day according to the research.
As with other body systems, excessive alcohol can have harmful effects on the cardiovascular system. Chronic alcohol use can increase the workload of the heart which can lead to arrhythmia's (irregular heart beat), inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis) weakening of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy), increased cholesterol, and hypertension. Other problems are noted with blood clotting and an increased workload of the heart that is associated with cirrhosis of the liver.
Binge drinkers are not immune from cardiac problems. A syndrome known as "holiday heart" has been found in some that binge drink. This is characterized by a severe, irregular heartbeat, which is known as atrial fibrillation. Holiday heart got its name as it frequently occurs around the holidays, a time when many people overindulge in alcohol consumption.
Hypertension or high bolod pressure is a known risk factor in cardiovascular problems. Hypertension has been seen in those who tend to abuse alcohol. It is believed that this hypertension may be related to magnesium deficiency or hormonal irregularities.
Hypertension is also a risk factor in cerebral vascular accidents (CVA) which are also known as strokes. Strokes can occur because of impairment of blood flow or by bleeding in the brain through hemorrhaging (bleeding) from a blood vessel.