Why Should You Stop Drinking Alcohol Seven Days Before Surgery?

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Doctors recommend that patients minimize drinking at least a week prior to surgery in order to reduce the risks of complications during and after surgery, according to Choose Help. Just two to three drinks per day increases the risk of infection as surgical wounds heal.

The British Journal of Anesthesia recommends patients stop drinking three to four weeks before surgery, because heavy drinking affects the patients’ immune capacity, cardiac function and metabolic stress function. Patients who consume three to four alcoholic drinks daily during this time have 50 percent more complications than those who limit consumption to zero to two drinks. Consumption of alcohol increases the patients’ chances of a cardiopulmonary event during surgery and of excessive bleeding from the procedure. Alcohol-consuming patients who enter a period of abstinence significantly reduce their chances of arrhythmia during the postoperative period and have a normal bleeding response.

The Cleveland Clinic reminds its weekend binge-drinking patients that consuming a large amount of alcohol in a single setting has the potential to affect the outcome of their heart surgery. It encourages patients to have honest conversations about their drinking habits and the number of drinks consumed on a weekly or daily basis with their doctor. Due to the complications alcohol withdrawal causes with heart surgery, the Cleveland Clinic recommends patients with drinking problems undergo alcohol treatment prior to surgery.