Moderate Drinking Reduces Risk of Ischemic Stroke

Consuming alcoholic beverages (wine, distilled spirits and beer) within the recommended limits in the U.S. for men (two standard drinks per day) or within twice the recommended limit for women (a total of two drink per day) is associated with a reduced risk of ischemic stroke. However, consuming over that quantity per day increases the risk of ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke.

These are the findings of a systematic review and meta-analysis of 26 research studies (cohort or case-control).

Ischemic stroke occurs as a result of an obstruction within a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. It accounts for 87 percent of all stroke cases. Fatty deposits lining the inside of the vessel walls can come loose and block the blood supply. Moderate drinking reduces the buildup of those fatty deposits.

Note: This website makes no recommendations or suggestions regarding drinking alcohol and ischemic stroke or any other health matter and none should be inferred.


  • Patra, J., Taylor, B., Irving, H., Roerecke, M., Baliunas, D., Mohapatra, S., Rehm, J. Alcohol consumption and the risk of morbidity and mortality for different stroke types – a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Public Health, 2010,
    10, art No 258, 12 pp.

Readings on Stroke

  • Adams HP Jr, del Zoppo G, Alberts MJ, et al. Guidelines for the early management of adults with ischemic stroke: a guideline from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Stroke Council, Clinical Cardiology Council, Cardiovascular Radiology and Intervention Council, and the Atherosclerotic Peripheral Vascular Disease and Quality of Care Outcomes in Research Interdisciplinary Working Groups: the American Academy of Neurology affirms the value of this guideline as an educational tool for neurologists. Stroke. May 2007;38(5):1655-711.
  • Adams RJ, Chimowitz MI, Alpert JS, et al. Coronary risk evaluation in patients with transient ischemic attack and ischemic stroke: a scientific statement for healthcare professionals from the Stroke Council and the Council on Clinical Cardiology of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Stroke. Sep 2003;34(9):2310-22.
  • Albers GW. Medical treatment for acute ischemic stroke. Am J Med. 1996;3-9.
  • Alexandrov AV, Molina CA, Grotta JC, et al. Ultrasound-enhanced systemic thrombolysis for acute ischemic stroke. N Engl J Med. Nov 18 2004;351(21):2170-8.
  • American Heart Association. 2002 Heart and Stroke Facts Statistical Update. Dallas: American Heart Association; 2001.
  • Barsan WG, Kothari R. Stroke. In: Emergency Medicine Concepts and Practices. Vol 3. 1998:2184-98.
  • Berger, K., et al. Light-to-moderate alcohol consumption and the risk of stroke among U.S. male physicians. N Engl J Medicine, Nov. 18 1999, 341 (21).
  • Bronner LL, Kanter DS, Manson JE. Primary prevention of stroke. N Engl J Med. Nov 23 1995;333(21):1392-400.
  • Brott T, Bogousslavsky J. Treatment of acute ischemic stroke. N Engl J Med. Sep 7 2000;343(10):710-22.
  • CAST: randomised placebo-controlled trial of early aspirin use in 20,000 patients with acute ischaemic stroke. CAST (Chinese Acute Stroke Trial) Collaborative Group. Lancet. Jun 7 1997;349(9066):
  • Chalela JA, Katzan I, Liebeskind DS, et al. Safety of intra-arterial thrombolysis in the postoperative period. Stroke. Jun 2001;32(6).
  • Dengler R, Diener HC, Schwartz A, Grond M, Schumacher H, Machnig T, et al. Early treatment with aspirin plus extended-release dipyridamole for transient ischaemic attack or ischaemic stroke within 24 h of symptom onset (EARLY trial): a randomised, open-label, blinded-endpoint trial. Lancet Neurol. Feb 2010;9(2):159-66.
  • Fieschi C, Hacke W, Kaste M, Toni D, Lesaffre E. Thrombolytic therapy for acute ischaemic stroke. ECASS Study Group. Lancet. Nov 15 1997;350(9089):1476; author reply 1477.
  • Flynn RW, MacWalter RS, Doney AS. The cost of cerebral ischaemia. Neuropharmacology. Sep 2008;55(3):250-6.
  • Grotta J, Bratina P. Subjective experiences of 24 patients dramatically recovering from stroke. Stroke. Jul 1995;26(7):1285-8.
  • Gubitz G, Sandercock P, Counsell C. Anticoagulants for acute ischaemic stroke. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;CD000024
  • Hacke W, Donnan G, Fieschi C, et al. Association of outcome with early stroke treatment: pooled analysis of ATLANTIS, ECASS, and NINDS rt-PA stroke trials. Lancet. Mar 6 2004;363(9411):768-74.
  • Handschu R, Poppe R, Rauss J, Neundorfer B, Erbguth F. Emergency calls in acute stroke. Stroke. Apr 2003;34(4):1005-9.
  • The International Stroke Trial (IST): a randomised trial of aspirin, subcutaneous heparin, both, or neither among 19435 patients with acute ischaemic stroke. International Stroke Trial Collaborative Group. Lancet. May 31 1997;349(9065):1569-81.
  • Kasner SE, Grotta JC. Emergency identification and treatment of acute ischemic stroke. Ann Emerg Med. Nov 1997;30(5):642-53.
  • Krieger D, Hacke W. The intensive care of the stroke patient. In: Stroke: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis and Management. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone; 1998.
  • Lacy CR, Suh DC, Bueno M, Kostis JB. Delay in presentation and evaluation for acute stroke: Stroke Time Registry for Outcomes Knowledge and Epidemiology (S.T.R.O.K.E.). Stroke. Jan 2001;32(1):63-9.
  • Leira EC, Chang KC, Davis PH, et al. Can we predict early recurrence in acute stroke?. Cerebrovasc Dis. 2004;18(2):139-44.
  • Lewandowski C, Barsan W. Treatment of acute ischemic stroke. Ann Emerg Med. Feb 2001;37(2):202-16.
  • Mandelzweig L, Goldbourt U, Boyko V, Tanne D. Perceptual, social, and behavioral factors associated with delays in seeking medical care in patients with symptoms of acute stroke. Stroke. May 2006;37(5):1248-53.
  • Milionis HJ, Giannopoulos S, Kosmidou M, Panoulas V, Manios E, Kyritsis AP, et al. Statin therapy after first stroke reduces 10-year stroke recurrence and improves survival. Neurology. May 26 2009;72(21).
  • National Stroke Association Consensus Group. Stroke: the first hours - emergency evaluation and treatment. Stroke Clin Updates.1997;5-14.
  • Raco, et al. Management of acute cerebellar infarction: One institution's experience. Neurosurgery vol 53(5). Nov 2005;1061-1065.
  • 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.
  • Schwamm LH, Pancioli A, Acker JE 3rd, et al. Recommendations for the establishment of stroke systems of care: recommendations from the American Stroke Association's Task Force on the Development of Stroke Systems. Circulation. Mar 1 2005;111(8).
  • Shiber JR, Fontane E, Adewale A. Stroke registry: hemorrhagic vs ischemic strokes. Am J Emerg Med. Mar 2010;28(3):331-3.
  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics - 2007 Update, published by the American Heart Association.
  • Wechsler LR, Roberts R, Furlan AJ, et al. Factors influencing outcome and treatment effect in PROACT II. Stroke. May 2003;34(5):1224-9.
  • Williams JE, Rosamond WD, Morris DL. Stroke symptom attribution and time to emergency department arrival: the delay in accessing stroke healthcare study. Acad Emerg Med. Jan 2000;7(1):93-6.
  • Wilterdink JL, Bendixen B, Adams HP Jr, Woolson RF, Clarke WR, Hansen MD. Effect of prior aspirin use on stroke severity in the trial of Org 10172 in acute stroke treatment (TOAST). Stroke. Dec 1 2001, 32(12).
  • Wit BJ, Ballman KV, Brown RD Jr, Meverden RA, Jacobsen SJ, Roger VL. The incidence of stroke after myocardial infarction: a meta-analysis. Am J Med. Apr 2006;119(4):354.e1-9.
  • Zweifler RM, Mendizabal JE, Cunningham S, Shah AK, Rothrock JF. Hospital presentation after stroke in a community sample: the Mobile Stroke Project. South Med J. Nov 2002;95(11):1263-8.
  • Zweifler RM. Management of acute stroke. South Med J. Apr 2003;96(4):380-5.

Filed Under: Brain and Alcohol