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Cardiovascular status in asymptomatic alcoholics, with reference to the level of ethanol consumption.
  1. M Kino,
  2. H Imamitchi,
  3. M Morigutchi,
  4. K Kawamura,
  5. T Takatsu


    One hundred and forty-five alcoholics without known causes of heart disease, who were serially admitted to the alcohol detoxification centre, were studied to see the incidence of cardiac abnormalities and dose related effects of ethanol. All patients were divided into heavy (consumed more than the equivalent amount of 125 ml of pure ethanol daily for 10 years or more) and moderate drinkers (consumed 75 to 125 ml of ethanol daily). All of them were ambulatory and free from cardiac symptoms. There was no difference among heavy and moderate drinkers in the incidence of abnormalities detected by the electrocardiograms and chest x-ray films. In the alcoholics, the most frequent finding was a prolonged QTc interval of more than 0.44 s on the electrocardiogram (62 patients, 42.8%), unrelated to serum electrolytes imbalance. Cardiomegaly on chest x-ray film was observed in 25 patients (17.2%). M-mode echocardiogram was recorded in randomly selected patients and compared with age and sex matched controls. The interventricular septum and posterior wall were thicker in alcoholics, while left ventricular volume showed no difference. Left ventricular muscle mass was significantly increased only in heavy drinkers. Left ventricular function at rest was not depressed in these patients at an average of 31 days after the last drink of ethanol. Severe heart failure was not found even among the group of heavy drinkers, of whom more than 90% had liver dysfunction. Cardiac hypertrophy seems to occur in heavy drinkers, but is clinically well compensated in the majority of alcoholics.

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