Your Risk of a Stroke Doubles for an Hour After
Drinking Any Alcoholic Drink
Moderate alcohol consumption (less than two drinks a
day) appears to be protective over the long-term - may outweigh this
temporary immediate risk
July 28, 2010 - Call it the not-so-happy hour. And,
many senior citizens who enjoy an evening drink will certainly call it
bad news. The risk of stroke appears to double in the hour after
consuming just one drink — be it wine, beer or hard liquor — according
to a small multi-center study reported in Stroke: Journal of the
American Heart Association.
Texan has fed the cows by himself. Stem cells have
some kind of guidance system and migrate to the area of injury and,
although they're not making new brain cells, they may be enhancing the
repair processes. UT Houston to enroll 9 more in clinical trial.
“The impact of alcohol on your risk of ischemic
stroke appears to depend on how much and how often you drink,” said
Murray A. Mittleman, M.D., Dr.P.H., senior author of the Stroke Onset
Study (SOS) and director of the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research
Unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in the Harvard Medical
School in Boston, Mass.
Prior to the SOS, researchers didn’t know if
alcohol consumption had an immediate impact on ischemic stroke (caused
by a blood clot in a vessel in or leading to the brain), although modest
alcohol use (less than two drinks per day) may potentially lower risk in
the long term.
Researchers interviewed 390 ischemic stroke
patients (209 men, 181 women) about three days after their stroke
regarding many aspects of their lives. Patients were excluded if the
stroke seriously impaired their ability to speak or if they weren’t well
enough to participate. Fourteen patients had consumed alcohol within one
hour of stroke onset.
Compared with times when alcohol wasn’t being used,
the relative risk of stroke after alcohol consumption was:
● 2.3 times higher in the first hour;
● 1.6 times higher in the second hour; and
● 30 percent lower than baseline after 24
The patterns remained the same whether participants
had consumed wine, beer or distilled spirits. When the researchers
eliminated patients who had been exposed to other potential triggers
(such as exercising vigorously or drinking a caffeinated beverage) just
prior to their strokes, the alcohol connection didn’t change.
Only one participant had consumed more than two
drinks in the hour preceding the stroke, and removing that data didn’t
alter the pattern.
“The evidence on heavy drinking is consistent: Both
in the long and short term it raises stroke risk,” Mittleman said. “But
we’re finding it’s more complicated with light to moderate drinking. It
is possible that the transiently increased stroke risk from moderate
alcohol consumption may be outweighed by the longer term health
Just after drinking, blood pressure rises and blood
platelets become stickier, which may increase the possibility of a clot
forming. However, consistent use of small amounts of alcohol is
associated with beneficial changes in blood lipids and more flexible
blood vessels, which may reduce risk overall.
“At this point we don’t have enough evidence to say
that people who don’t drink should start, or that people who drink small
amounts — on the order of one drink a day — should stop,” Mittleman
A more definitive answer would require a controlled
study in which some people are randomly selected to consume alcohol
while others don’t, he said.
The findings may not apply to patients with severe
Stroke is the No. 3 killer and a leading cause of
long-term major disability in the United States, according to American
Heart Association statistics.
The American Heart Association recommends that if
you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. This means no more than two
drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. (A drink is one
12-ounce beer, 4 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits, or 1
ounce of 100-proof spirits.)
High intakes can be associated with serious adverse
effects and may increase alcoholism, high blood pressure, obesity,
stroke, breast cancer, suicide and accidents. Consult your doctor on the
benefits and risks of consuming alcohol in moderation.
Co-authors are: Elizabeth Mostofsky, M.P.H.; Mary
R. Burger, M.D.; Gottfried Schlaug, M.D., Ph.D.; Kenneth J. Mukamal,
M.D., M.P.H.; and Wayne D. Rosamond, Ph.D.
The study was supported by an American Heart
Helpful Stroke Information from the
American Heart Association
Know the Signs of a Stroke
Stroke is a medical emergency. Know these warning
signs of stroke and teach them to others. Every second counts:
► Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm
or leg, especially on one side of the body
► Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or
► Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
► Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of
balance or coordination
► Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
If you or someone with you has one or more of these
signs, don't delay! Immediately call 9-1-1 or the emergency medical
services (EMS) number so an ambulance (ideally with advanced life
support) can be sent for you.
Also, check the time so you'll know when the first
symptoms appeared. It's very important to take immediate action. If
given within three hours of the start of symptoms, a clot-busting drug
called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) can reduce long-term
disability for the most common type of stroke. tPA is the only
FDA-approved medication for the treatment of stroke within three hours
of stroke symptom onset.
A TIA or
transient ischemic attack is a "warning stroke" or "mini-stroke" that
produces stroke-like symptoms but no lasting damage. Recognizing and
treating TIAs can reduce your risk of a major stroke. The usual TIA
symptoms are the same as those of stroke, only temporary. The short
duration of these symptoms and lack of permanent brain injury is the
main difference between TIA and stroke.
Let's Talk About Stroke, TIA and Warning Signs
Stroke is the No. 3 cause of death and a leading
cause of serious long-term disability in America. This fact sheet will
answer the following questions in regards to stroke, TIA and warning
► What is a stroke?
► What is a TIA?
► Why should I care about stroke? It seems hopeless.
► What are the warning signs of stroke?
► How can I learn more?
The file above is in Portable
Document Format (PDF). Adobe Reader® is free software that lets you view
and print PDF files on all major computer platforms. If you have trouble
with this file,
download the latest version of Adobe Reader.