Page last updated: Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Protective effect of moderate alcohol consumption against ischaemic stroke
Two papers have confirmed previous findings that moderate consumption of alcohol reduces the risk of ischaemic stroke, which is responsible for 80% of all strokes. Sacco et al of Columbia University reported their findings in The Journal of the American Medical Association vol 281. No1, 1999.

The study of nearly 2000 people between 1993 and 1997 found that participants who consumed up to two drinks a day were at 45% lower risk than non-drinkers of suffering an ischemic stroke. Importantly "The protective effect was found in both younger and older groups, in men and women, in whites, blacks and Hispanics even after adjusting for other risk factors for stroke such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, current smoking and obesity".

Those who consumed above seven drinks a day, however, tripled their risk of ischemic stroke, although as soon as consumption was lowered to within the two drink thres-hold the increased risk subsided. The data supports The US National Stroke Association stroke prevention guidelines that cite the beneficial effects of moderate alcohol consumption.

The second study, reported in Stroke, vol 29, no.12 looked at 13,000 men and women aged between 45 and 84 years, taking part in The Copenhagen City Heart Study. Truelson M.D. et al of The Institute of Preventative Medicine, Copenhagen studied the participants intake of beer wine and spirits and concluded that wine specifically was associated with a lower risk of stroke. The sixteen year study found that participants who drank wine regularly and moderately had a 30% reduction in risk, which was not found for beer and spirits. The researchers believe the protective effect of wine may be due to drinking pattern ie it being consumed at meal times whereas beer and spirits tend to drunk alone. The former study found a reduction of risk for all forms of alcohol.

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