Page last updated: Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Alcohol and stroke risk
Dr. Mitchell S.V. Elkind, of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, and colleagues examined whether moderate alcohol consumption has a protective effect on the risk of stroke in a mostly Hispanic population. The 3176 subjects were on average 69 years of age and were enrolled in the study between 1993 and 2001.

The researchers report that alcohol use was assessed during in-person interviews and was categorized as none in the past year (reference group); moderate consumption (at least one drink per month in the past year but no more than two drinks daily); intermediate (more than two but less than five drinks daily), and heavy (at least five drinks daily).

One hundred ninety subjects experienced a first stroke over a follow-up period of around 6 years, and 172 of the strokes were caused by obstructed blood supply.After adjusting for other risk factors compared with those who did not drink in the past year, moderate drinkers had a reduced risk of IS (0.67) and IS, myocardial infarction, or vascular death (0.74). Results were similar when never-drinkers were used as reference group. Reduction in risk was seen for nonatherosclerotic IS subtypes, and results stratified by age, sex, and race-ethnicity were similar. After accounting for established stroke risk factors, moderate drinkers had a 33 percent lower risk of ischaemic stroke compared with those who consumed no alcohol in the past year.

Commenting on the research in Stroke, Goldstein, L. B. stated ‘the weight of available evidence indicates that light to moderate drinking is associated with a protective effect, whereas heavy consumption is associated with an increased risk of stroke’.

Source: Elkind MSV et al. Moderate Alcohol Consumption Reduces Risk of Ischemic Stroke: The Northern Manhattan Study. Stroke 2006;37:13­9.

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