HealthDay News — People who average more than two alcoholic drinks a day have a 34% higher risk of stroke compared to those who average less than half a drink per day, according to a study published in Stroke.
Researchers analyzed results from a Swedish registry of 11,644 same-sex twins who answered questionnaires between 1967 and 1970. By 2010, the registry yielded 43 years of follow-up, including hospital records and cause-of-death data. Twenty-nine percent of participants had a stroke.
The researchers found that for heavy drinkers, alcohol produced a high risk of stroke in late middle age, starting at age 50. By comparison, light drinkers’ or nondrinkers’ stroke risk increased gradually with age. Among identical twins, siblings who had a stroke drank more than their siblings who hadn’t had a stroke, suggesting that midlife drinking raises stroke risks regardless of genetics and early lifestyle, the researchers said.
“Our study showed that drinking more than two drinks per day can shorten time to stroke by about five years,” lead author Pavla Kadlecova, a statistician at St. Anne’s University Hospital International Clinical Research Center in the Czech Republic, told HealthDay. The researchers also concluded that enhanced stroke risk created by heavy drinking rivals the risk posed by high blood pressure or diabetes. By age 75, however, blood pressure and diabetes became better predictors of stroke.