Strokes Linked To Heavy drinking
Men who average three drinks a day and women who average two face a significantly higher risk for stroke
in middle age, a new study has found. The study by Swedish scientists examined drinking habits of more than 11,000 twins over four decades, and found that those they defined as “heavy” drinkers in their 50s and 60s have a 34 percent higher risk for stroke than more moderate drinkers. That makes excessive alcohol consumption a greater risk factor in strokes than high blood pressure
and diabetes. Heavy drinkers also were more likely to have strokes five years earlier than light drinkers, regardless of their genetics or other health habits.
The findings are consistent with the American Heart Association’s recommendations that men not exceed two drinks a day and women, one. Previous studies have found that moderate drinking can have a protective effect on heart disease and overall mortality, and the Swedish study found that abstaining from alcohol altogether did not lower the risk of stroke. Drinking is “like Jekyll and Hyde,” says Tara Narula, a cardiologist at New York City’s Lenox. “It can be medicinal and beneficial or poisonous and detrimental, depending on how much you use”
The National Library of Medicine concluded the following results after performing a study regarding the link between alcohol and strokes.
National Library of Medicine:
Alcohol might contribute to stroke in several ways: induction of cardiac arrhythmias and cardiac wall motion abnormalities which predispose to cerebral embolism
, induction of hypertension, enhancement of platelet aggregation and activation of the clotting cascade, and reduction of cerebral blood flow by stimulation of cerebral vascular smooth muscle contraction or by altering cerebral metabolism.
While these pathophysiological mechanisms have gained enthusiastic experimental and theoretical support, the findings are preliminary and will require further large-scale clinical and epidemiological analyses to substantiate their roles as causal factors or potentiators of stroke. Documentation of measurable platelet and coagulation cascade abnormalities reported in healthy volunteers who have ingested alcohol will need to be confirmed on a broader scale in stroke patients with recent ethanol consumption.
The risk of stroke in those with alcohol-induced atrial fibrillation and cardiomyopathy must be ascertained for the general population. While the experimental evidence is exciting and provocative, epidemiological evidence also suggests a link between alcohol consumption and stroke.
Regular alcohol ingestion is associated with hypertension, fatal and nonfatal intracranial hemorrhage, cerebral infarction, and increased risk of death from stroke. Recent, less stringently controlled studies suggest that alcohol consumption is a risk factor for cerebral infarction in young adults with occasional ethanol intoxication and middle-aged women and young men with occasional alcohol intoxication and regular heavy drinking. Alcohol may also be a risk factor for subarachnoid hemorrhage.