New study suggests light drinking reduces stroke risk

New study suggests light drinking reduces stroke risk

A new study has found that drinking up to two alcoholic drinks per day may reduce the risk of the most common type of stroke.

A research published in the journal BMC Medicine shows that light to moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a lower risk of ischemic stroke. However, there was no effect on a person’s risk of the most deadly type of stroke — haemorrhagic stroke.

According to the meta-analysis of more than 25 cohort studies that involves 20,000 Swedish stroke patients, high-to-heavy drinking was associated with an increased risk of all stroke types.

“Our results showed heavy drinkers were about 1.6 times more likely to suffer from intracerebral haemorrhage and 1.8 times more likely to suffer from subarachnoid haemorrhage,” said lead author Dr Sussanna Larsson.

It says that people who consume up to one drink per a day were 10 per cent less likely to suffer from ischemic stroke.

That benefit will reduced to eight per cent if a person consume one or two drinks.

Previous research has found an association between alcohol consumption and lower levels of fibrinogen. Fibrinogen is a protein in the body which helps the formation of blood clots.

Dr. Larsson said, while it may explain the association between light to moderate alcohol consumption and lower ischemic risk, the adverse effect of alcohol consumption on blood pressure, which is the major risk factor for stroke, may increase the risk of haemorrhagic stroke and outweigh any potential benefit.

Ischemic stroke is one of the causes of blood clots which block diseased or damaged cerebral arteries. Haemorrhagic stroke occurs when a weakened blood vessel bursts and bleeds either within the brain.

The researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and University of Cambridge, UK, acknowledges that because it was only an observational study their findings only shows possible association and not cause and effect.

Associate Professor Bruce Campbell from the Australian Stroke Foundation said that the study is interesting but it needs more work to be done in that area, saying that people must be sensible and put their health first by adhering to the Australian Alcohol Guidelines’ recommendation of no more than two standard alcoholic drinks per day.

“We know that excessive alcohol consumption is clearly associated with an increased risk of stroke.

“Alcohol consumption can lead to high blood pressure and irregular heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation) which are major causes of stroke,” Prof Campbell said.

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