More than blood pressure and diabetes, which are behind increasing number of strokes, scientists have warned that drinking more than two drinks a day in middle-age may raise the risk of potential stroke.
Aimed at regular drinkers of alcohol on daily basis, the study said alcohol can raise blood pressure and cause heart failure or irregular heartbeats over time leading to stroke and other heart disease risks.
“For mid-aged adults, avoiding more than two drinks a day could be a way to prevent stroke in later age,” said Pavla Kadlecova of St Anne’s University Hospital’s International Clinical Research Center in the Czech Republic, who is a statistician.
The team studied 11,644 middle-aged Swedish twins who were observed for 43 years, whose health was recorded and compared for the effects of an average of more than two drinks daily (heavy drinking) to less than half a drink daily (light drinking).
The study found that heavy drinkers had about a 34% higher risk of stroke compared to light drinkers. Even among them, mid-life heavy drinkers in their 50s and 60s were likely to have a stroke five years earlier in life than others despite other genetic and early-life factors.
Those who come under the category of heavy drinkers had increased stroke risk in their mid-life compared to other known risk factors like high blood pressure and diabetes that were attributed to their peers.
In fact, in mid-70s or those at around age 75, blood pressure and diabetes appeared to take over as one of the main influences on having a stroke, said the authors. “We now have a clearer picture about these risk factors, how they change with age and how the influence of drinking alcohol shifts as we get older,” Kadlecova said.
The research paper has been published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.