September 11, 2012

Heavy Drinking Could Cause Strokes Earlier In Life

Lee Rannals for — Your Universe Online

People who drink heavily are more prone to experience a stroke almost a decade and a half earlier in life, according to a study published in the journal Neurology.

Researchers found that drinking three or more alcoholic drinks per day may put you at higher risk of having a stroke earlier than if you didn´t drink alcohol.

In order to make the findings, the team used 540 participants with an average age of 71 who had a type of stroke called intracerebral hemorrhage.

The participants were interviewed about their drinking habits and doctors also interviewed the caregivers or relatives about their drinking habits.

About 25% of the participants were considered to be heavy drinkers, which was defined as having three or more drinks a day, or about 1.6 ounces of "pure" alcohol a day.

The study found that heavy drinkers experienced a stroke at an average age of 60, which is 14 years below the average age of those participants who were not heavy drinkers.

"Heavy drinking has been consistently identified as a risk factor for this type of stroke, which is caused by bleeding in the brain rather than a blood clot," study author Charlotte Cordonnier, MD, PhD, with the University of Lille Nord de France in Lille, France, said in a statement. "Our study focuses on the effects of heavy alcohol use on the timeline of stroke and the long-term outcome for those people."

For those people younger than 60 who had a stroke that occurred in the deep part of the brain, heavy drinkers were more likely going to die within two years of the study follow-up than non-heavy drinkers.

"It's important to keep in mind that drinking large amounts of alcohol contributes to a more severe form of stroke at a younger age in people who had no significant past medical history," said Cordonnier.