Page last updated: March 8, 2017
Alcohol consumption and incident stroke among older adults

The relationship between alcohol consumption and incident stroke among older adults was examined in a recent US study and tests were carried out to assess whether alcohol consumption might contribute to observed race and sex differences in stroke. Data was drawn from a US national cohort of black and white adults aged 45 and older - the Reasons for Geographic And Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study.

Current and past drinking levels were reported at baseline (2003-2007). Participants who had never had a stroke were followed for adjudicated stroke events through September 2015 (n = 27,265). Cox proportional hazard models for stroke were calculated, adjusting for demographic, socioeconomic, behavioural, and health characteristics.

Participants, mean age 64.7 years, consumed on average 2.2 drinks/week and experienced 1,140 first-time stroke events over median 9.1 years follow-up. Nondrinkers had a 12% higher risk of stroke than current drinkers; the risk of stroke among nondrinkers largely reflected high risks among past drinkers; these differences were explained by socioeconomic characteristics.

Among current drinkers, light drinkers had significantly lower stroke risks than moderate drinkers after accounting for demographic, socioeconomic, behavioural, and health characteristics. Implications of alcohol did not differ between blacks and whites but did differ by sex. Women, nondrinkers, and past drinkers, had higher risks; these differences were largely explained by health characteristics and behaviours. Alcohol did not explain race and sex differences in stroke incidence.

Among older adults, those who used to, but no longer, drink had higher risks of stroke, especially among women; current light drinkers had the lowest risk of stroke, the study concluded.

Source: Alcohol consumption and incident stroke among older adults. Cunningham SA; Mosher A; Judd SE; Matz LM; Kabagambe EK; Moy CS; Howard VJ Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences. Published early online 10 February 2017.

 
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