Heavy Drinkers Can Add Heavy Burden To Their Risk For Stroke

May 07, 1998

DALLAS, May 8 -- Studies have shown moderate amounts of alcohol can be beneficial in reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke, but too much of a good thing can turn bad according to a report in this month's Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Italian and Austrian researchers examined the drinking habits of 826 men and women and found that those who drank the most -- more than four bottles of beer per day -- were most likely to develop fatty buildup in the vessels leading to the brain, setting the stage for stroke.

"Regular consumption of more than 100 grams of alcohol per day emerged as a prominent risk factor for early development of deposits that clog the arteries," says lead author Stefan Kiechl, M.D., of the department of neurology at the Innsbruck University Hospital in Innsbruck, Austria. "We found that it even surpassed the effects of heavy smoking (20 or more cigarettes per day) as a risk factor for stroke."

The researchers focused on the effects alcohol has upon early atherosclerosis -- which results when fatty deposits in the blood clump together to form plaques on the tissue lining of blood vessels. They found that alcohol consumption could be associated with the development, or inhibition, of early atherosclerosis.

Low alcohol intake -- defined as having 25 grams of alcohol per day, the equivalent of one bottle of beer -- cut in half the risk of developing blockages in the arteries that lead to the brain. Kiechl says previous research has shown alcohol has chemicals that help negate the formation of clots in the bloodstream. He admits it's possible this discovery may have been a chance finding, adding that further research is needed to prove that low alcohol intake can have such a dramatic effect.

Drinking less than once a week was shown to have no measurable effect on one's risk for developing atherosclerosis. Light drinkers faced a lower risk of atherosclerosis than did either heavy drinkers or abstainers. "The protection offered by alcohol consumption of 50 grams per day resulted because the alcohol can lessen the vessel injuries brought about by high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the 'bad' cholesterol," says Kiechl.

He says that no consistent evidence emerged to determine whether any of the beverages -- beer, white or red wine, spirits or liqueurs -- was superior in terms of reducing stroke risk. He adds that men and women did not differ in this response to alcohol in the study.
-end-


American Heart Association

Related Heart Attack Articles from Brightsurf:

Top Science Tip Sheet on heart failure, heart muscle cells, heart attack and atrial fibrillation results
Newly discovered pathway may have potential for treating heart failure - New research model helps predict heart muscle cells' impact on heart function after injury - New mass spectrometry approach generates libraries of glycans in human heart tissue - Understanding heart damage after heart attack and treatment may provide clues for prevention - Understanding atrial fibrillation's effects on heart cells may help find treatments - New research may lead to therapy for heart failure caused by ICI cancer medication

Molecular imaging identifies link between heart and kidney inflammation after heart attack
Whole body positron emission tomography (PET) has, for the first time, illustrated the existence of inter-organ communication between the heart and kidneys via the immune system following acute myocardial infarction.

Muscle protein abundant in the heart plays key role in blood clotting during heart attack
A prevalent heart protein known as cardiac myosin, which is released into the body when a person suffers a heart attack, can cause blood to thicken or clot--worsening damage to heart tissue, a new study shows.

New target identified for repairing the heart after heart attack
An immune cell is shown for the first time to be involved in creating the scar that repairs the heart after damage.

Heart cells respond to heart attack and increase the chance of survival
The heart of humans and mice does not completely recover after a heart attack.

A simple method to improve heart-attack repair using stem cell-derived heart muscle cells
The heart cannot regenerate muscle after a heart attack, and this can lead to lethal heart failure.

Mount Sinai discovers placental stem cells that can regenerate heart after heart attack
Study identifies new stem cell type that can significantly improve cardiac function.

Fixing a broken heart: Exploring new ways to heal damage after a heart attack
The days immediately following a heart attack are critical for survivors' longevity and long-term healing of tissue.

Heart patch could limit muscle damage in heart attack aftermath
Guided by computer simulations, an international team of researchers has developed an adhesive patch that can provide support for damaged heart tissue, potentially reducing the stretching of heart muscle that's common after a heart attack.

How the heart sends an SOS signal to bone marrow cells after a heart attack
Exosomes are key to the SOS signal that the heart muscle sends out after a heart attack.

Read More: Heart Attack News and Heart Attack Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.