Latest scientific news 27 October 2015

Moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages may not be related to stroke risk

The results of the current study did not find a protective effect of light to moderate intake of alcoholic beverages at midlife on the ischemic stroke risk whereas heavy drinking was associated with an increased risk.

The association between alcoholic beverages and stroke has been investigated in many studies, yet uncertainties remain. Current meta-analyses suggest that moderate drinking is protective for ischemic stroke (IS) but not intracerebral hemorrhagic stroke (ICH). In the prospective Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC-Study), the relationship between midlife, self-reported alcohol consumption and ischemic stroke and intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) was investigated among black and white adults.

From 12 433 never and current drinkers, aged 45 to 64 years at baseline, self-reported usual drinks per week of beer, wine, and liquor at baseline were computed. 773 ischemic strokes and 81 ICH occurred during the 23-year follow-up period. Light and moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages was not associated with the occurrence of ischemic stroke whereas with heavy drinking a 31% risk compared to abstainers was observed. With regards to hemorrhagic stroke, moderate-to-heavy consumption increased the risk.

(*) Intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) occurs when a diseased blood vessel within the brain bursts, allowing blood to leak inside the brain.  The sudden increase in pressure within the brain can cause damage to the brain cells surrounding the blood. If the amount of blood increases rapidly, the sudden buildup in pressure can lead to unconsciousness or death

Jones SB, Loehr L, Avery CL, et al. Midlife Alcohol Consumption and the Risk of Stroke in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study. Stroke. 2015 Sep 24. [Epub ahead of print]

For more information about this article, read the scientific abstract here.