While alcohol in small doses could indeed have protective effects on the cardiovascular system, a new study suggests that in greater quantities it can also be toxic for the heart, especially among seniors.

According to a new scientific study published on May 26 in the journal "Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging," exceeding two glasses of wine per day for men, and one per day for women, could alter cardiac function and structure.

Dr. Scott Solomon, a professor at Harvard Medical School, and his team of researchers analyzed data on the alcohol consumption of 4,466 men and women with an average age of 75. They also submitted them to an EKG between 2011 and 2013 in order to determine any changes in the chambers of their hearts.

Results indicated that 2,400 of the participants indicated that they never drank alcohol. A further 1,500 claimed to drink 1 to 7 glasses per week, 402 drank 14 glasses per week, and 195 respondents declared that they drank more than 14 glasses per week.

The more the subjects drank, the more the researchers found changes in their cardiac structure: increasing alcohol intake was associated with larger left ventricular diastolic and systolic diameters and larger left atrial diameter.

"A little bit of alcohol may be beneficial, but too much is clearly going to be toxic," says Solomon.

"Once you get beyond two drinks a day in men, you get into the realm where you start to see subtle evidence of cardiotoxic effects on the heart that might over the long term lead to problems. And that threshold might be lower in women."

In fact, the study that showed that among the men, increasing alcohol intake was associated with greater left ventricular mass, especially for those who consumed more than two glasses per day.

Among the women, lower left ventricular ejection fraction and a tendency for worse left ventricular global longitudinal strain was observed starting at more than one glass per day.

The researchers concluded that the benefits of alcohol consumption are not significant enough to go up against the risks involved, and recommend that people who don't drink shouldn't start.

The team also indicated that large quantities of alcohol also have similar toxic effects on cardiac muscle cells in young test subjects, although those modifications aren't as easily visible.