Alcoholic cardiomyopathy: What is known and what is not known

Eur J Intern Med. 2017 Sep:43:1-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ejim.2017.06.014. Epub 2017 Jun 21.


Excessive alcohol consumption represents one of the main causes of non-ischemic dilated cardiomyopathy. Alcoholic cardiomyopathy is characterized by dilation and impaired contraction of one or both myocardial ventricles. It represents the final effect of alcohol-induced toxicity to the heart. Several pathophysiological mechanisms have been proposed at the basis of alcohol-induced damage, most of which are still object of research. Unfortunately, symptoms of alcoholic cardiomyopathy are not specific and common to other forms of heart failure and appear when dilatation and systolic dysfunction are consolidated. Thus, early diagnosis is mandatory to prevent the development and progression to heart failure. Although physicians are aware of this disease, several pitfalls in the diagnosis, natural history, prognosis and treatment are still present. The aim of this narrative review is to describe clinical characteristics of alcoholic cardiomyopathy, highlighting the areas of uncertainty.

Keywords: AUD; Alcohol; Alcohol use disorder; Alcoholic cardiomyopathy; Ethanol.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects*
  • Cardiomyopathy, Alcoholic / diagnostic imaging
  • Cardiomyopathy, Alcoholic / physiopathology*
  • Cardiomyopathy, Alcoholic / therapy
  • Disease Progression*
  • Echocardiography
  • Heart / physiopathology*
  • Heart Failure / etiology
  • Humans
  • Prognosis
  • Radiography, Thoracic