Drinking Alcohol can Help Prevent Stroke

While increased levels of high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) or "good" cholesterol clearly protects against heart disease, its role in stroke prevention has not yet been extensively documented. New findings published in The Journal of the American Medical Association add to the growing evidence that HDL protects against stroke.

Dr. Ralph Sacco of Columbia University and colleagues compared levels of HDL, LDL and triglycerides in over 500 patients who had experienced strokes with those of about 900 individuals of similar age and race who had never experienced strokes.

Only high HDL level was found to be a predictor of lower stroke risk, especially among older people. Moreover, increased levels of HDL were even linked with fewer strokes among people with high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. And the higher the HDL level, the greater the protection against risk.

Stroke or "brain attack" is a major health problem with few therapies. Therefore, more emphasis needs to be placed on prevention, according to Dr. Sacco. He explains that "Physical activity, healthy diet, and moderate alcohol consumption, as well as medicines, are sone of the ways that HDL can be increased.


  • Sacco, R.L., et al. High-density lipoprotein cholesterol and ichemic stroke in the elderly: The Northern Manhattan Stroke Study. Journal of the American Medical Association, 2001, 285, 2729-2735. Also see Boggs, W. High "Good" Cholesterol Level Lowers Stroke Risk. Reuters Health, June 5, 2001 and Reuters, Associated Press, ABCNEWS, and HealthSCOUT of the same date.

Filed Under: Health Brain