12 december 2023

Moderate alcohol consumption on the risk of stroke in the Million Veteran Program

BACKGROUND: There is inconsistent evidence on the association of moderate alcohol consumption and stroke risk in the general population and is not well studied among U.S. Veterans. Furthermore, it is unclear whether primarily drinking beer, wine, or liquor is associated with a difference in stroke risk.

METHODS: The study included 185,323 Million Veteran Program participants who self-reported alcohol consumption on the Lifestyle Survey. Moderate consumption was defined as 1-2 drinks/day and beverage preference of beer, wine or liquor was defined if >/= 50% of total drinks consumed were from a single type of beverage. Strokes were defined using ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes from the participants' electronic health record.

RESULTS: The mean (sd) age of the sample was 64 (13) years and 11% were women. We observed 4,339 (94% ischemic; 6% hemorrhagic) strokes over a median follow-up of 5.2 years. In Cox models adjusted for age, sex, race, education, income, body mass index, smoking, exercise, diet, cholesterol, prevalent diabetes, prevalent hypertension, lipid-lowering medication, antihypertensive medication, and diabetes medication, moderate alcohol consumption (1-2 drinks/day) was associated with a 22% lower risk of total stroke compared with never drinking [Hazards ratio (HR) 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.78 (0.67, 0.92)]. When stratifying by stroke type, we observed a similar protective association with moderate consumption and ischemic stroke [HR (95% CI): 0.76 (0.65, 0.90)], but a non-statistically significant higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke [HR (95% CI): 1.29 (0.64, 2.61)]. We did not observe a difference in ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke risk among those who preferred beer, liquor or wine vs. no beverage preference. When stratifying by prior number of hospital visits (</= 15, 16-33, 34-64, >/= 65) as a proxy for health status, we observed attenuation of the protective association with greater number of visits [HR (95% CI): 0.87 (0.63, 1.19) for >/= 65 visits vs. 0.80 (0.59, 1.08) for </= 15 visits].

CONCLUSIONS: We observed a lower risk of ischemic stroke, but not hemorrhagic stroke with moderate alcohol consumption and did not observe substantial differences in risk by beverage preference among a sample of U.S. Veterans. Healthy user bias of moderate alcohol consumption may be driving some of the observed protective association.

Additional Info

  • Authors

    Song R. J.; Larson M. G.; Aparicio H. J.; Gaziano J. M.; Wilson P.; Cho K.; Vasan R. S.; Fox M. P.; Djousse L.; Million Veteran Program
  • Issue

    Periodical: BMC Public Health - Volume: 23 - Number: 1 - Edition: 20231212
  • Published Date

    12 december 2023