Does alcohol affect blood clotting? If it does, how much does it take? Is it a short-term reaction or can it affect blood clotting processes long-term? Is there a difference in alcohol’s effect on blood clotting depending on the type of alcohol such as wine, beer, or hard liquor?
These are just a few questions asked by patients for their physicians. What will your doctor say? Some studies have shown that in moderation, wine is actually a heart-healthy form of alcohol. Others claim benefits that moderate intake of alcohol can act somewhat like a blood thinner in the body. It can be suggested them, that alcohol does affect blood clotting processes, but not in the way some might think.
Alcohol may not trigger blood clotting processes, but actually restrict them.
How does alcohol thin the blood?
A study conducted at Georgetown’s University Medical Center determined that alcohol found in approximately two drinks has the capability of decreasing platelet clumping. This clumping of platelets as well as other factors is an essential component of the blood clotting process. However, it should be noted that research has not yet specifically identified whether the components of red wine or alcohol found in other beverages is the key constituent that actually has an influence on platelet clumping.
It should also be noted that the amount of alcohol provided in this study (mixed with soft drinks) equaled that typically consumed in one or two drinks. How long the reduced clotting processes (due to thinner blood) remained in effect was not the focus of the study, and further research is required.
This knowledge does not in any way intend to encourage an individual who doesn’t drink to start drinking in terms of protecting against heart disease. In addition, the reduced platelet clumping capability was examined in test tubes, and not in human venous blood flow, again putting into question exactly what the ramifications of alcohol have in regard to blood clotting processes.
Alcohol has a negative influence on platelet clumping
At the other end of the spectrum, because of the suggestion that alcohol has the potential to reduce platelet clumping and therefore blood clotting processes, any individual diagnosed with a blood clotting disorder, heart disease, or other condition should proceed with extreme caution when it comes to alcohol consumption. Inability of the blood to clot can prove dangerous in injury scenarios.
Excessive intake of alcohol contributes to numerous disease processes that affect the liver, the heart, the pancreas, and other vital organs and plays a role in the development of heart disease.
Drinking more than two servings of alcohol daily increases the risk of blood clot development. Why? Because of the effects of alcohol in the blood and the reduction of platelets, the body often triggers an increase in platelet development and release, causing overabundance of platelets to counteract the effects of the alcohol. Hence, more potential to coagulate or clot.
Bottom line: drink only in moderation. If you have contributing factors that may affect health and wellness, consult with your physician. Awareness is the key.