Existing health conditions - the effects of alcohol
If you already have a medical condition you could make it worse if you drink, especially if you drink more than the lower risk guidelines.
Alcohol affects existing health conditions
The sort of health problems that can be affected by drinking alcohol include:
Heart disease and alcohol
You may need to plan to stop drinking alcohol completely if you have heart disease. Ask your healthcare professional (your doctor or other clinical advisor) for advice on this.
Learn more about heart disease from NHS Choices and British Heart Foundation
Alcoholic liver disease and alcohol
If you’ve already been diagnosed with alcoholic liver disease, you’ll amost certainly have been advised that you need to stop drinking completely. It's important that you discuss how to do this initially, and how to keep it up, with your healthcare professional (your doctor or other clinical advisor).
Learn more about alcoholic liver disease from NHS Choices and the British Liver Trust
Diabetes and alcohol
Alcohol contains a lot of calories, so if you're diabetic your healthcare professional (doctor, diabetic nurse or dietitian) may advise you to drink less as part of a balanced, calorie-controlled diet.
If you manage your diabetes with tablets or insulin then drinking alcohol could be more dangerous. You'll also need to talk to your doctor or other healthcare professional (such as diabetic nurse or dietician) about how drinking could affect your diabetes treatment and any other medication you take.
Learn more about diabetes from NHS Choices and Diabetes UK
Depression & anxiety and alcohol
There's a strong link between drinking quite a bit over the lower risk guidelines and feeling depressed or anxious, because alcohol works as a depressant drug on your nervous system. A hangover will often include anxiety and feeling low. If you are prone to feeling depressed, alcohol may worsen this
Read more about depression on NHS Choices
Hypertension (high blood pressure) and alcohol
This is common in those drinking quite a bit above the lower risk guidelines, and if you have high blood pressure then reducing your drinking could help. If you've already had a heart attack, drinking could put you at greater risk of high blood pressure and further damage to your heart.
Learn more about hypertension on NHS Choices and the Stroke Association
Cut down on alcohol and reduce the risk
Cutting back on the amount of alcohol you drink means that you’re reducing the risk of further harming your health. It can make a difference to how you feel now and a big difference to your health later on.
Try our ideas for easy ways to cut down on alcohol
Medical warning: if you have physical withdrawal symptoms (like shaking, sweating, or feeling anxious until you have a first drink of the day), you should take medical advice before stopping completely as it can be dangerous to do this too quickly without proper advice and support.
Alcohol units and guidelines
Understanding units and the lower risk guidelines can help you reduce the risk to your health