According to several studies, there is a link between moderate to heavy alcohol consumption and an increased risk of stroke in young adults. Heavy drinking can lead to high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for stroke. It can also cause damage to the blood vessels in the brain, which can lead to bleeding and increase the risk of stroke. Additionally, heavy drinking can also lead to atrial fibrillation, which is a type of irregular heartbeat that can increase the risk of stroke. It’s important to note that moderate drinking is defined as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men, and heavy drinking is defined as more than that.
According to a study published in the online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, people in their 20s and 30s who drink moderate to heavy amounts of alcohol may be more likely to have a stroke as young adults than people who drink little or no alcohol. The risk of stroke increased with the number of years people reported drinking moderately or heavily.
“Over the last few decades, the rate of stroke among young adults has been increasing, and stroke in young adults causes death and serious disability,” said study author Eue-Keun Choi, MD, PhD, of Seoul National University in the Republic of Korea. “If we could prevent stroke in young adults by reducing alcohol consumption, that could potentially have a substantial impact on the health of individuals and the overall burden of stroke on society.”
Over the last few decades, the rate of stroke among young adults has been increasing, and stroke in young adults causes death and serious disability. If we could prevent stroke in young adults by reducing alcohol consumption, that could potentially have a substantial impact on the health of individuals and the overall burden of stroke on society.Eue-Keun Choi
The researchers examined records from a Korean national health database for people in their twenties and thirties who had four annual health exams. Every year, they were polled on their alcohol consumption. They were followed for six years on average.
They were asked how many days per week they drank alcohol and how many standard drinks they consumed per time. People who consumed 105 grams or more of alcohol per week were classified as moderate or heavy drinkers. This amounts to 15 ounces per day, or slightly more than one drink. In the United States, a standard drink contains about 14 grams of alcohol, which is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor.
More than 1.5 million people were included in the study. A total of 3,153 had a stroke during the study. People who were moderate to heavy drinkers for two or more years of the study were about 20% more likely to have a stroke than people who were light drinkers or did not drink alcohol. Light drinkers were those who drank less than 105 grams per week, or less than 15 ounces per day.
As the number of years of moderate to heavy drinking increased, so did the risk of stroke. People with two years of moderate to heavy drinking had a 19% increased risk, people with three years had a 22% increased risk and people with four years had a 23% increased risk. These results were after researchers accounted for other factors that could affect the risk of stroke, such as high blood pressure, smoking and body mass index.
The link was primarily due to an increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke, or stroke caused by bleeding in the brain.
People who had four years of moderate to heavy drinking had a stroke rate of 0.51 per 1,000 person-years, compared to 0.48 for three years, 0.43 for two years, 0.37 for one year, and 0.31 for none. Person-years represent both the number of people in the study and the amount of time each person spends in the study.
“Because more than 90% of the overall burden of stroke can be attributed to potentially modifiable risk factors, including alcohol consumption, and because stroke in young adults has a severe impact on both the individual and society by limiting their activities during their most productive years,” Choi said.
The study’s limitation was that it only included Korean people, so the findings may not apply to people of other races and ethnicities. Furthermore, because people completed questionnaires about their alcohol consumption, they may not have remembered correctly.