Ask the doctor: Is it okay to drink wine if you have a slow heart rate?
The Heart Letter welcomes Dr. Peter Zimetbaum to the editorial board. Dr. Zimetbaum is Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Director of Clinical Cardiology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He specializes in treating people with heart rhythm problems.
Q. If you have a slow heart rate (bradycardia), is it safe to drink wine? If so, how much per day? Does alcohol affect the heart rate?
A. Bradycardia generally refers to a steady but slow heartbeat at rest, under 60 beats per minute (although trained athletes can have much slower resting heart rates). A slow heart rate can cause symptoms such as dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, or fainting, but most people don't notice any symptoms unless the heart rate dips below 50 beats per minute.