Risk of stroke high in the hour after alcohol consumption: Study

There is some sobering news for people who tend to reach out for a drink when stressed out. According to a study published online in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, the risk of stroke appears to double in the hour after consuming alcohol.

Researchers interviewed 390 ischaemic stroke patients about their drinking patterns within three days after their stroke. Researchers concluded that the risk of ischaemic stroke was 2.3 times higher in the hour after alcohol consumption than at times during periods of no alcohol consumption. (The most common type of ischaemic stroke is one in which the blood supply to the brain is cut off due to a blood clot.)

The degree of risk did not change with the type of alcohol - wine, beer or distilled spirits and even a single drink was sufficient to raise the risk.

However, according to Elizabeth Mostofsky, lead author of the study and a post-doctoral candidate at the Harvard School of Public Health, the study also found that the higher risk was short-lived.

Even though the risk of stroke was at the peak in the hour following drinking, it was lowered when alcohol was consumed earlier than that. Among those who drank, the chance of a stroke was 30-per cent lower with moderate amounts of alcohol consumed more than 24 hours earlier, compared with no alcohol intake at all. ("Moderate" amount for women is defined as a drink a day at the maximum while for men it is at two drinks at most.)

The survey also revealed an interesting pattern in drinking habits among people who consume alcohol regularly. It found that among alcohol drinkers, significantly more numbers drink at home than at public venues and when people drink at home they consume almost twice the number of drinks in an average month than when they are in restaurants or bars. (10 versus 5.7).