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The Negative Effects of Alcohol on Your Vein Health

A variety of different hard liquors on a bar shelf

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As we’ve discussed in the past, there are numerous ways that your vein health can take a turn for the worse. Two of the primary things (that you have control over) that negatively affect your vein health are:

  1. Bad eating habits
  2. Sedentary lifestyle

The other major culprits that lead to vein problems include genetics, hormones, and age.

Those things, however, are beyond your control, so you can just hope for the luck of the draw when it comes to genetics and hormones, and keep your fingers crossed that age doesn’t cause your veins too many problems. But, for those things that are within your control, such as bad eating habits and leading a sedentary lifestyle, it is crucial that you start sooner rather than later on getting your eating and physical activity on a healthy track.

While you’re at it, you’ll want to take into consideration another factor that likely exists in your life that is wreaking havoc on your circulatory system: alcohol.

Though it is not in the top 5 of things that put you at risk for varicose veins and other vein issues, it is certainly on the list of contributors to poor vein health.

So just how bad is alcohol for your veins? Let’s take a look.

How Alcohol Affects Your Circulatory System

The veins in your body are a major part of your circulatory system. This whole system works to make sure that your heart continues to pump blood through your veins and your arteries, hence its name, the circulatory system.

Chances are good that you’ve read studies or articles claiming that alcohol can be good for your circulatory system. And to a certain extent, this is correct. However, the key is how much and how often you consume it.

Just one glass of wine, beer, or a cocktail has been shown to help keep your heart doing its job.

However, the moment that you dip into two glasses, your body becomes stressed and any of the positive effects that alcohol may have provided are now gone.

How is this possible? Well, the studies show that one glass of alcohol causes your blood vessels to relax, which makes it easier for your body to pump blood through them. This is a great break for your circulatory system.

But, that second glass may increase your heart rate which causes your circulatory system to work harder.

This means your body is back on duty (double-duty, in fact) to get things back to a normal level. And included in that double-duty shift is your veins. And working double-time means more strain in them, which can greatly increase your chances of damaging them.

Your Veins While Drinking

As mentioned above, when you have one drink, your circulatory system is able to relax a bit and enjoy your blood flowing nicely. However, if you don’t stop after that first drink, then you may be setting yourself up for some problems.

It can not be said that drinking leads directly to varicose veins. It can be said, however, that drinking causes issues for your circulatory system, as discussed above. And, because your veins are part of your circulatory system, it seems inevitable that they will, at some point, become affected by your drinking.

Since drinking does not lead to varicose veins, we are not making the claim that you need to stop drinking in order to keep your veins healthy. Rather, be aware of the possible effects, and know that the problems will be more severe for those who already have a predisposition to vein issues.

Concerned about your vein health?

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Satish Vayuvegula
Dr. Satish Vayuvegula is the National Medical Director at Vein Clinics of America. Certified by the American Board of Venous & Lymphatic Medicine, Dr. Satish Vayuvegula is recognized as a physician who has met rigorous standards of knowledge and extensive training in phlebology, the diagnosis and treatment of varicose vein disease and related disorders. Dr. Satish also shares his passion and expertise by serving as a board member of the American Vein and Lymphatic Society, the predominant national organization for venous and lymphatic disease.

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