Stroke Risk Doubled One Hour After Drinking Alcohol

But researchers find elevated risk is transient
By Lindsey Marcellin
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, July 15 (HealthDay News) -- The risk of stroke is more than doubled in the hour after ingestion of alcohol, according to the results of a study published online July 15 in Stroke.

Elizabeth Mostofsky, of Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues conducted a multicenter, case-crossover study of 390 patients, interviewing them about alcohol consumption in the hour before stroke symptoms began. The purpose of the study was to test the hypothesis that alcohol consumption affects the acute risk of ischemic stroke, to determine the induction time between alcohol intake and the onset of symptoms, and to assess for risk variation by type of alcohol.

The researchers found that 64 percent (248) of the patients reported having consumed alcohol in the prior year, 104 within 24 hours of stroke symptoms and 14 within one hour of stroke onset. The risk of stroke within one hour of drinking alcohol was more than doubled (relative risk, 2.3), with risk returning to baseline by three hours. Relative risks were found to be similar for various types of alcoholic beverages and for when the researchers included only the individuals who were not exposed to other potential triggers simultaneously.

"Because most of the participants drank small amounts of alcohol in the hour before stroke onset, we could not examine the acute effects of different doses of alcohol. We had limited power to evaluate the effect of beverage type because few participants were exposed to each type. A larger study would help elucidate such effects," the authors conclude.

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