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Heavy Alcohol Consumption Increases Risk of Stroke


Excessive drinking in midlife is found to raise the risk of having a stroke by 34%, compared with light drinking, shows report published in Stroke, a journal of American Heart Association (AHA).  

And you may be surprised to hear that the risk of having a stroke in middle age is increased by drinking only two alcoholic drinks per day.

Researchers followed 11,644 same-sex twins aged under 60 for 43 years analysing data on their drinking habits and health; including hospitalisations, information on blood pressure and smoking habits.

Researchers split the participants into groups depending on their drinking habits. ‘light’- meaning they had half an alcoholic drink per day, ‘Moderate’- drinking up to two drinks per day and ‘Heavy’- where participants consumed more than two alcoholic drinks per day.

During the follow up period researchers discovered that 30% of participants had had a stroke.

Heavy drinkers were 34% more likely to have a stroke than those in the light-moderate group. The study also found that heavy drinkers aged in their 50’s and 60’s were more likely to suffer a stroke 5 years earlier than the light drinkers.

Those who had a stroke were found to have drunk more alcohol than their siblings who did not have a stroke, indicating that heavy alcohol consumption amongst middle aged people raises the risk of a stroke autonomously regardless of genetics or other life-factors.

The risk of having a stroke in your 50’s and 60’s is increased more by the amount of alcohol you consume than other contributing factor such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. However the report also found that this is only true for middle aged people as diabetes type 2 and high blood pressure remain the two most common contributing factors of a stroke in patients aged over 75yrs.

"We now have a clearer picture about these risk factors, how they change with age and how the influence of drinking alcohol shifts as we get older. For mid-aged adults, avoiding more than two drinks a day could be a way to prevent stroke in later productive age (about 60s)." says Pavla Kadlecová, a statistician at the International Clinical Research Center of St. Anne's University Hospital in the Czech Republic, who helped to conduct the report.

Source: Medical News Today

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