Stroke risk up hour after drinking alcohol

BOSTON, July 22 (UPI) -- The risk of stroke doubles in the hour after drinking one serving of wine, beer or hard liquor, U.S. researchers found.

Senior author Dr. Murray A. Mittleman, director of the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in the Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues interviewed 390 ischemic stroke patients -- 209 men, 181 women -- about three days after their stroke.


Patients who were seriously impaired in their ability to speak, or who weren't well enough to participate, were excluded.

The study, published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, found 14 patients had consumed alcohol within one hour of stroke onset.

"The evidence on heavy drinking is consistent: Both in the long and short term it raises stroke risk," Mittleman said in a statement. "But we're finding it's more complicated with light to moderate drinking."

Just after drinking, blood pressure rises and blood platelets become stickier, which may increase the risk of a clot forming. But drinking small amounts of alcohol is associated with beneficial changes in blood lipids and more flexible blood vessels, which may reduce risk overall.


"At this point we don't have enough evidence to say that people who don't drink should start, or that people who drink small amounts -- on the order of one drink a day -- should stop," Mittleman said.

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