Alcohol consumption: a risk factor for stroke

Alcohol consumption: a risk factor for stroke – Tips From Other Journals

The relationship between alcohol consumption and hemorrhagic and nonhemorrhagic stroke is unclear. Some studies have found an increased risk of stroke with alcohol consumption, and others have failed to demonstrate an association. One study that evaluated this association in women found a protective effect of alcohol against cerebral infarction, but an increased risk for subarachnoid hemorrhage. GHI and associates performed a case control study to evaluate the relationship between alcohol consumption and stroke.

A total of 621 stroke victims admitted to two hospitals were compared with 573 control patients without a history of cerebrovascular disease. The patients with stroke included 337 with cerebral infarction, 193 with subarachnoid hemorrhage and 91 with intracerebral hemorrhage. Questionnaires were used to obtain a history of alcohol use. The patients and control subjects were categorized by the amount of weekly alcohol consumption: abstainers, low consumers (10 to 90 g), moderate consumers (100 to 390 g) and heavy consumers (400 g or more).

In patients with all types of stroke, the relative risk of stroke followed a J-shaped pattern with increasing alcohol consumption. Light drinkers had a slightly lower risk of stroke than those who did not consume alcohol, and heavy drinkers had a risk 1.3 to 2.5 times greater than that of nondrinkers.

The authors conclude that low to moderate levels of alcohol consumption may provide a protective effect against stroke, whereas heavy alcohol consumption predisposes persons to both hemorrhagic and nonhemorrhagic stroke. (American Journal of Medicine, April 1991, vol. 90, p. 489.)

COPYRIGHT 1991 American Academy of Family Physicians

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group