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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1998 Oct;22(7 Suppl):352S-358S.

Alcohol consumption and stroke: benefits and risks.

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Department of Neurology, Oulu University Hospital, Finland.


The complex relationship between alcohol consumption and stroke includes both benefits and risks. Regular light-to-moderate consumption of alcohol seems to decrease the risk for ischemic stroke by reducing atherothrombotic events, but the underlying mechanism is still unclear. Recent and current (but not previous) heavy drinking increases the risk for both hemorrhagic and ischemic strokes. Young and middle-aged men are stricken more often than women or elderly persons, probably because they are more often current heavy drinkers. Alcoholic cardiomyopathy is a cause of cardioembolic brain infarction. Cardiac arrhythmias caused by regular heavy drinking or binge drinking can precipitate thrombus formation and propagate already existing thrombi from the heart. The maintenance of high blood pressure by heavy drinking may promote cerebral arterial degeneration, but the effect of drinking habits on aneurysm formation is not known. Acute increases in systolic blood pressure and/or alterations in cerebral arterial tone could serve as mechanisms triggering hemorrhagic strokes during alcoholic intoxication. We lack studies to show that prevention of heavy drinking can efficiently influence the occurrence of strokes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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