Previous research suggests that regular heavy alcohol consumption increases the risk for ischemic stroke, whereas frequent light to moderate alcohol intake may decrease the risk. However, the risk of ischemic stroke associated with transient exposure to alcohol remains unclear.
A study published online by the journal Stroke in July, used a case-crossover approach to test the hypothesis that alcohol consumption affects the acute risk of ischemic stroke, to determine the length of time between alcohol intake and the onset of symptoms (induction time), and to examine whether the risk varies by the type of alcohol.
The multicenter study included 390 patients (209 men, 181 women) between January 2001 and November 2006 (median 3 days after stroke). Alcohol consumption in the hour before stroke symptoms was compared with its expected frequency based on the usual frequency of alcohol consumption over the prior year.
Of the 390 patients, 248 (64%) reported alcohol consumption in the prior year, 104 within 24 hours and 14 within 1 hour of stroke onset. The relative risk of stroke in the hour after consuming alcohol was 2.3 (95% CI, 1.4 to 4.0; P=0.002). The relative risks were similar for different types of alcoholic beverages and when the sample was restricted to those who were not simultaneously exposed to other potential triggers.
The authors conclude that the risk of stroke onset is transiently elevated in the hour after alcohol ingestion.
Alcohol and acute ischemic stroke onset: the Stroke Onset Study Mostofsky E; Burger MR; Schlaug G; Mukamal KJ; Rosamond WD; Mittleman MA Journal: Stroke Citation: Published early online 15 July 2010