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Int J Epidemiol. 2001 Aug;30(4):743-8.

Daily variations in deaths in Lithuania: the possible contribution of binge drinking.

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European Centre on Health of Societies in Transition, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1B 3DP, UK.



During the early 1990s the countries of the Former Soviet Union experienced a dramatic rise in mortality, especially from cardiovascular diseases. Although still poorly understood there is evidence, particularly from Russia, that this mortality crisis is partly linked to alcohol consumption. In this paper we use data from Lithuania to explore the daily variations of deaths and the probable relationship with binge drinking.


Computerized death certificates for those aged 20-59 years were analysed according to the day of death, place of death, and cause of death for the years 1988-1997.


There is a marked increase in deaths from accidents, violence, and alcohol poisoning at the weekend, suggesting a pattern of binge drinking in Lithuania. There is also a significant increase in ischaemic heart disease (IHD) deaths on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. If the analysis is performed separately according to place of death, the day of the week effect is strengthened for cardiovascular deaths outside of hospital; consistent with the idea of a sudden cardiac death.


The increase in mortality from cardiovascular diseases observed at the weekend in Lithuania is similar to that observed in Moscow and other populations. The relationship with alcohol consumption is supported by the available physiological evidence. We propose that bingeing can be solely responsible for, or acts as a 'catalyst' for, pathophysiological events by increasing blood pressure, cardiac rhythm and coagulability. The increased IHD mortality observed throughout the weekend and on Monday in Lithuania may reflect the influence of alcohol consumption patterns in a population already subject to high psychosocial stress.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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