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Single drink doubles stroke risk for an hour

Washington: The risk of stroke appears to double in the hour after consuming just one drink - be it wine, beer or hard liquor.

"The impact of alcohol on your risk of ischemic stroke (caused by a blood clot in a vessel) appears to depend on how much and how often you drink," said Murray A. Mittleman, senior author of the Stroke Onset Study (SOS).

Mittleman is a cardiologist at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at the Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Prior to the SOS, researchers didn`t know if alcohol consumption had an immediate impact on ischemic stroke, according to a Harvard statement.

Researchers interviewed 390 ischemic stroke patients (209 men, 181 women) about three days after their stroke regarding many aspects of their lives, reports Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Compared with times when alcohol wasn`t being used, the relative risk of stroke after alcohol consumption was:

* 2.3 times higher in the first hour;

* 1.6 times higher in the second hour; and

* 30 percent lower than baseline after 24 hours.

The patterns remained the same whether participants had consumed wine, beer or distilled spirits.

"The evidence on heavy drinking is consistent: Both in the long- and short-term it raises stroke risk," Mittleman said.

Just after drinking, blood pressure rises and blood platelets become stickier, which may increase the possibility of a clot forming.

Stroke is the No. 3 killer and a leading cause of long-term major disability in the US, says American Heart Association.


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