Does Alcohol Thin Your Blood?
Occasionally, conversations pop up about whether or not the consumption of alcohol thins your blood. Some jump on the “it’s true” bandwagon while others dismiss it as pure myth. So, now your curiosity has been pricked and you want to know, “Does alcohol thin your blood?”
Thin Vs Thick Blood
Before we tackle the tough question, let’s first look at the advantages and disadvantages of thin blood compared to thick blood.
Those who are at risk for clogged arteries or blood clot formations can benefit by thinning out their blood. Patients who may be prone to heart attacks, for example, are routinely told by their doctors to take a daily aspirin which is a well known blood thinner. Blood thinners hinder platelets in the bloodstream from “activating” which means they don’t group together as readily at an injury site and the platelets become less sticky both of which makes clots harder to form.
The problem with thinning the blood is that it takes much more time for a rupture, cut or bruise to heal. When the blood is thinned, the platelets which normally come together to form a clot are fewer and farther between so clotting takes much longer. People who experience aneurisms and bleeding strokes are in more dire straits due to the fact that internal bleeding usually doesn’t stop before the patient bleeds out.
How Alcohol Affects the Blood
A major study published in the October, 2005 addition of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research that tested more than 3,000 participants showed that blood coagulation (thickening) is affected by moderate alcohol consumption with moderate being defined as 3-6 drinks per week. The blood platelets in moderate drinkers were less “active” as well as less “sticky”, with alcohol showing the same similarities in blood thinning qualities as aspirin.
The study also revealed that the blood thinned more as the number of drinks per week increased. It found that the more alcohol someone drank, the less “activated” platelets were found. The amounts became significant after the 3-6 moderate drink per week threshold. There were no differences in results between men and women nor in what type of alcoholic beverage was consumed (beer, spirits, or wine).
What to Consider
Obviously, according to this study, alcohol thins the blood and several things should, therefore, be considered.
First of all, moderate drinking (3-6 drinks a week) is considered to have the same effect as taking an aspirin daily. This is good news for those who are at risk for heart attack due to clots or have a tendency towards hardening of the arteries that can cause stroke. Moderate drinking thins the blood sufficiently to prevent internal blood clots from forming.
However, thinning the blood also prevents cuts, punctures and bruises from healing as rapidly as they would with normal blood that’s full of “activated” platelets that group and stick together to plug up the wound. The risk becomes much higher for someone with continually thinned blood to experience severe problems with aneurisms and blood strokes.
The threat to weightlifters and bodybuilders is that blood vessels often rupture during heavy weight training. Although most ruptured blood vessels are not life threatening, it could still take more time for the rupture to clot making the bruise, blood pool, or pain worse than normal.
Medically, there is the possibility of complications during surgery and with certain medications. Concerning surgery, the clotting ability of the blood is required making thin blood a detriment to the healing process. Also, some medications may not work as expected when dissolved and mixed with thinned blood, or they could react badly with the consumption of alcohol.
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