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What is the link between alcohol and stroke risk?

According the World Health Organization, stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide and accounts for approximately 11% of deaths each year.

According to the World Stroke Organization, stroke cases increased by 70% from 1990 until 2019, and the number who died of strokes rose by 43%.

The cognitive and physical limitations of stroke patients often limit their ability to continue working for the rest of their lives.

Stroke is most common in people aged 44 years and older. However, stroke has also been occurring among younger individuals. According to the WSO approximately 8% of 13.7 million strokes that occur each year are caused by people under 44 years old.

Over 90% of strokes are caused by lifestyles such as alcohol consumption, which has been on the rise worldwide. In Asia, alcohol consumption increased by 104% between 1990 and 2007. The findings of 2019 indicate that worldwide alcohol consumption will increase significantly.

Although excessive alcohol consumption increases stroke risk, there is little evidence on the effects of moderate drinking over time.

Alcohol Consumption And Stroke Risk

In an experiment, researchers analyzed data from 1536 668 women’s and male’s national health records.

Volunteers completed four health tests a year between 2009 and 2012. The volunteers ranged in age from 20 to 39. The risk of stroke was the main factor in determining a patient’s overall health.

The study classified alcohol consumption into four categories based on the weekly alcohol intake measured in grams:

* Alcohol consumption exceeding 210 grams

* Moderate Alcohol Intake of 105-210 grams

* Moderate alcohol consumption between 0-105 grams

* No alcohol intake

As a comparison, 105g of alcohol is equal to one and a quarter regular wine bottles.

In addition to other morbidities such as cancer, diabetes and hypertension investigators also looked at income, age, sex and gender.

The participants were followed for approximately 5.6-years. And 3153 patients suffered a stroke during the duration of the follow-up.

After reviewing data, investigators found that the incidence of stroke increased gradually with the accumulation of alcohol consumption.

Subjects who had consumed moderate to heavy alcohol for two years were at a 19% higher risk of stroke. Risk increased by 22% and 23% respectively for those who had consumed alcohol for three years.

While the rate of light drinking was not statistically significant, researchers found that heavy drinkers had a stroke risk 28% higher than non-drinkers.

The researchers recommended that as a preventive measure, young people who consume alcohol heavily be encouraged to cut back on their consumption.

Why is alcohol use associated with a higher risk of stroke?

According to Professor Tamar Rodriguez from the John Hopkins School for Nursing, who took part in the research: “Alcohol affects a number of organs because blood is its vehicle of travel.” Alcohol can quickly impair the brain due to how the body metabolizes Alcohol .”

“Repeated alcohol exposure to brain can result in processes that lead to inadequate oxygen-rich circulation of blood or cerebral clots which could result in stroke.” Rodney added that the brain was only one of many organs which can be affected by excessive alcohol consumption.

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