Heart conditions and alcohol

Alcoholic drinks

If you’ve recently been unwell or in hospital with a heart condition, or have undergone heart surgery, it can be difficult to know if and when you can drink alcohol again.

If you have questions about alcohol, check with your doctor.   

I have recently been in hospital, when can I drink alcohol again?

You should always ask your doctor for advice on when you can resume drinking alcohol.

Will alcohol interact with my medication?

Drinking alcohol can affect the way your medicines work. If you want to drink and you are taking regular medication, you should check with your pharmacist or doctor that it is safe to do so first.

Everyone should avoid drinking too much alcohol but this is particularly important if you are taking the following medication:

  • Painkillers and sleeping tablets - If you are taking sleeping tablets or painkillers, remember that alcohol will have a more powerful effect.
  • Warfarin and other anticoagulant (anti-clotting) medication - Too much alcohol can interfere with the blood clotting process, so if you do drink alcohol it is better to have just a small amount regularly. Your anticoagulant clinic will be able to advise you on this.

Is it safe to drink with a heart condition?

Once you’ve recovered its fine for most people with a heart condition to drink alcohol within the recommended limits.

However, check with your doctor for advice on whether it is safe for you to drink alcohol and how much. If you have been diagnosed with certain conditions, such as some types of cardiomyopathy, it may be advisable for you to avoid drinking alcohol altogether.

Some alcoholic drinks and mixers also contain caffeine, which can make your heart work much harder. You should avoid these drinks if you’ve recently been unwell with a heart condition, had heart surgery or suffer from recurring tachycardias (rapid heart rates) and arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms).

If you are taking medication, always check with your doctor or pharmacist about how much alcohol you can drink.

Know your limits

Read the current alcohol guidelines to find general information about alcohol, recommended levels and how regulating your alcohol intake can help prevent heart disease.