Effects of Alcohol on Risk of Strokes and Heart Attacks (Health Facts)

I. Research: Effects of Alcohol on Risk of Strokes and Heart Attacks.

Researchers examined the effects of alcohol on risk of strokes and heart attacks. To do so they studied data from 204,557 participants in the NHIS-National Sample Cohort. That’s a sample representative of the South Korean population.

The investigators looked at biennial health exam findings and the later incidence of diseases and death. The average follow-up period was 9.1 years. They found the following events.

  • alcohol on risk of strokesIschemic stroke, 3,274.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke, 1,056.
  • Myocardial infarction (heart attack), 1,065.
  • All-cause mortality, 8,771.

Moderate alcohol drinkers had lower risk of stroke, heart attack, and all-cause mortality. However, the risk of both hemorrhagic stroke and all-cause mortality was much higher among heavy drinkers.

II. Risk Factors for Strokes and Heart Disease

Here are some important facts about risk factors.

  1. A risk factor is anything that increases the chances of developing a particular disease.
  2. Having one or more risk factors doesn’t mean that the person will get the disease.
  3. Not having a risk factor doesn’t mean that the person won’t get the disease.
  4. Having had a stroke is a risk factor for coronary heart disease.
  5. Having one of several types of heart disease is a risk factor for stroke.
  6. Stroke and coronary heart disease share many of the same risk factors. They include these

alcohol on risk of strokesSmoking
Physical inactivity
Obesity (being overweight)
Abstaining from alcohol.
Abusing alcohol.
High LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels.
Low HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels.
Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Family history of stroke or heart attack

Fortunately, we individually have control of the most important risk factors for both both stroke and coronary heart disease.

III. Resources

Are You at Risk for a Heart Attack? (webpage)

Blood Pressure and How to Reduce It. (webpage)

Butterfield, C. Lower Cholesterol. Reduce Blood Pressure & Stress. Melbourne: Wilkinson, 2015.

Common Warning Signs of a Heart Attack. (webpage)

Getting Blood Pressure Under Control. Many Missed Opportunities to Prevent Heart Dsease and Stroke. Atlanta: CDC, 2012. (webpage)

Rinzler, C. and Graf, M. Controlling Cholesterol for Dummies. Hoboken: Wiley, 2013.

Stroke: Understanding the Disease. NY: Films Media Group, 2015.

Taylor, L, et al. Can I Tell You about Having a Stroke? A Guide for Friends, Family and Professionals. London: Kingsley, 2015.

Study reported: Kim, D., et al. Alcohol Consumption. Benefit versus Harm in Vascular Events and Overall Mortality. Stroke, 2018, 49, Issue Suppl 1. First presented at the International Stroke Conference held in Los Angeles in January.