We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are the Effects of Alcohol on Heart Rate?

By C. Daw
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

To what extent alcohol affects the body has been a subject of debate for a long time, and still continues today. The damaging effects that alcohol can have on a person’s liver over a period of time is already common knowledge among most people. However, the effects of alcohol on heart rate is not commonly discussed, but the dangerous consequences may include diseases of the heart, damage to the heart and even death.

Another impact of alcohol on heart rate is known as supraventricular tachycardia (SVT). This occurs when a person’s heart starts to beat extremely fast and it is not caused by exercise, sickness or stress. A normal heart rate is between sixty and one hundred beats per minute, but when SVT occurs the heart beat can rise between one hundred and three hundred beats per minute. In most cases, the heart rate restores itself to normal by the time the person reaches the doctor, but it can cause more severe complications.

Alcohol has been linked to the increased occurrence of paroxysmal attacks in a person. Paroxysmal attacks cause a person to have convulsions and can be very damaging to a person. Another effect of alcohol on heart rate is that it can cause damage or injury to the heart and can cause paroxysmal or sudden cardiac arrhythmia. When this condition occurs, without any other signs of heart disease, this is referred to as holiday heart. Sudden death among alcoholics where no other cause can be detected, cardiac arrhythmia is often suspected.

Other effects of alcohol on heart rate are that it can cause irregular heartbeat which is referred to as atrail fibrillation. Heavy drinkers, or those who drink an average of three or more drinks a day, are at a forty-six percent higher rate to developing an irregular heartbeat. Ethanol is found in alcohol and works as a nervous system depressant and when taken in excessive quantities, it will cause the heart rate to decrease. Alcohol will initially cause a person’s heart rate to increase, but when the blood alcohol level rises above 0.25 percent the heart rate starts to decrease, and when it reaches 0.35 percent the heart rate will be at a dangerously low rate, which can cause a person to fall into a coma. This lowered heart rate can cause severe damage to the body and if low enough, death can result.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon1000220 — On Jul 09, 2018

I've recently noticed that having a drink seems to give me irregular heartbeat, but it's only noticeable when I go to bed. When I wake up, it's gone.

By discographer — On Jul 20, 2014

@stoneMason-- Yea, a racing heart after alcohol is very common. Every person has different tolerance levels. Some people are more sensitive to the effects of alcohol, but it really can happen o anyone who drinks.

What happens is that alcohol causes blood vessels to relax and enlarge. This means more blood flow to the heart, and a faster heart rate.

Heart patients or people who already have high blood pressure or arrhythmia are at greater risk. The whole idea that wine is good for the health is really not true. Alcohol doesn't have much benefit for the heart. The benefits from the antioxidants are not worth the risks from the its other effects on the organs.

By stoneMason — On Jul 20, 2014

I can also say from experience that alcohol causes irregular heart beat. I experienced it a few times when I drank way too much and mixed several types of alcohol together. It felt like my heart was racing, and was skipping a beat once in a while. It was scary so I make sure not to drink too much any more.

By candyquilt — On Jul 19, 2014

I was just about to say that alcohol should actually reduce heart rate because it's a nervous system depressant. But the last paragraph clarified it for me.

I've known for some time now that alcohol depresses the nervous system. This causes all life functions to slow down, especially breathing and heart rate. In fact, excessive drinkers may die because of respiratory system shut down for this reason. The same logic applies to heart rate. Just as the lungs may shut down, the heart could do the same.

So I guess alcohol can both increase and decrease heart rate.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.