Alcohol and Stroke Risk

Alcohol and Stroke Risk
Does drinking alcohol increase your risk of stroke? That’s a good question without a simple answer. It all depends on the type of stroke – ischemic or hemorrhagic – and how much alcohol you consume each day over time.

So, what should a person do in relation to drinking alcohol to help decrease their risk of any kind of stroke. Let’s take a look

Two Types of Strokes

The most common stoke is an ischemic stroke, caused by a blood clot blocking blood and oxygen flow to the brain. The symptoms may include:
  • headache,
  • trouble walking,
  • trouble speaking or understanding
  • and paralysis or numbness of arm, leg or face.
A hemorrhagic stroke may be less common but far deadlier. It is caused by a leaking or burst blood vessel that can lead to life-threatening internal bleeding. The symptoms of a hemorrhagic stroke are sometimes like an ischemic stroke, but may also include:
  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • and seizures.
Take these stroke symptoms seriously. Stroke is a medical emergency. If you think you or someone else is having a stroke, immediately call 911 or have someone drive you to a hospital.

Stroke Risk and Alcohol

A recent study showed middle-aged people who average more than two drinks a day increase their risk of stroke by 34% when compared to those who drink an average of less than one drink every other day. This increased stroke risk is about the same as that of having high blood pressure or diabetes.

Light drinkers or abstainers tend to have fewer strokes and at a much later time in life, according to a new study published in the journal Stroke.

Researchers analyzed data from a Swedish study of over 11,000 same-sex twins that was done in the late sixties. Following up 43 years later in 2010, the research team examined health and cause-of- death records of the twins.

Over those 40 plus years, nearly 30 percent of the twins had strokes. The heavy drinkers had a very high risk of stroke by the age of 50. The stroke risk of light drinkers or non-drinkers, on the other hand, increased gradually as they aged.

Since alcohol thins your blood, most experts believe this increases the risk of broken blood vessels and bleeding in the brain. Alcohol has also been linked to high blood pressure and increased arterial fibrillation, which are both risk factors for stroke.

Alcohol abuse has also been also linked to other illnesses such as heart
disease, liver disease and certain cancers and is a primary cause of many fatal accidents. In fact, drinking when driving is the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the U.S.

Basic Stroke Prevention

In most cases, stroke prevention is possible if you live a healthy lifestyle, which includes:
  • eat a healthy diet,
  • exercise on a regular basis,
  • and quit smoking or, better yet, never start.
There are, however, certain risk factors that are not within your control. They include:
  • age,
  • gender,
  • family history
  • and race and ethnicity.
If you are subject to two or more of these factors, the smart thing to do is make a strong commitment to living a healthier lifestyle. You do not want to have a stroke.

Alcohol and Stroke Prevention

To prevent stroke, heart disease, diabetes, etc, drinking of alcohol should be limited to no more than two drinks a day for men and no more than one drink daily for non- pregnant women. Pregnant women and those trying to conceive should avoid alcohol at all cost. It is not worth the risk

Better yet, it’s wise to limit alcohol consumption to less than one drink a day or just the occasional drink. Alcohol is addictive, so it’s best to play it safe.

Stroke Statistics

According to the Internet Stroke Center, “Stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability” and “the third leading cause of death in the United States.” Nearly 800,000 people suffer a stroke in the U.S. each year, taking more than 140,000 lives.

Don’t add to the statistics. Start right now to do all you can to reduce your risk of stroke, especially those of you who are at a greater risk. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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Note: The information contained on this website is not intended to be prescriptive. Any attempt to diagnose or treat an illness should come under the direction of a physician who is familiar with nutritional therapy.

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