Risk of Stroke Reduced by Moderate Alcohol Drinking

Risk of stroke is reduced by drinking alcoholic beverages in moderation. They can be wine, distilled spirits (liquor) or beer. This is the finding of a systematic review of 26 studies. They were both cohort and case-control studies

       Overview

I.   Stroke

II.  Reduce Risk

III. Resources

I. Stroke

Ischemic stroke results from an obstruction within a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. Fatty deposits line the inside of the vessel walls. They can block blood to the brain. Alcohol in the blood reduces the buildup of these deposits.

Almost nine of every ten strokes is ischemic. The rest are hemorrhagic strokes. These are caused by a bulge (aneurism) that ruptures. Or by a weak blood vessel that leaks. Blood then seeps into or around the brain. This creates swelling and pressure that can kill brain cells.

Stroke is often called a “brain attack.” It kills brain cells. This results in the loss of the abilities controlled by the part of the brain damaged. Almost a third of people who suffer stroke recover completely. But the rest experience some form of permanent disability.

Stroke is the leading cause of disability among adults in the U.S. It is the fifth leading cause of death in the country. Every year almost 800,000 people have a stroke. As many as eight of every 10 strokes can are preventable. A stroke occurs every 40 seconds. Someone dies from one every four minutes

Symptoms

Common symptoms of stroke are easy to remember using “FAST.”

F    Face drooping. One side of the face droops or is numb.

A    One  arm is weak or numb.

S    Speech is impaired or difficult.

T   Time to call 911.

Other symptoms can include such things as

    • Weakness on one side of the  body.
    • Unsteady gait or unusual walk.
    • Severe  headache.
    • Numbness or tingling.
    • Loss of vision.

If in doubt, always call 911. With stroke, prompt treatment is essential.

Risk Factors

Factors that increase our risk of stroke are.

    • alcohol on risk of strokesAge. Our risk doubles every ten years after 55.
    • Gender. Being male.
    • Heredity. Having close relatives who have had strokes at an early age.
    • High blood pressure.
    • A previous stroke or a “mini-stroke.” That’s a transient ischemic attack or TIA.
    • Diabetes.
    • Heart disease.
    • Race. Being African American or Hispanic American.

II. Reduce Risk of Stroke

The Harvard Medical School recommends doing eight things to reduce the risk of stroke.

    • Lower your blood pressure, if needed. The top number should be less than 120. The bottom number should be less than 80.
    • Lose weight, if necessary. Your body mass index (BMI) should be 25 or less. Visit  Calculate Your Body Mass Index.
    • Exercise more. Exercise at a moderate intensity level at least five days per week.
    • Drink alcohol daily in  moderation. It can be beer, wine or spirits (liquor). Frequent, moderate drinking reduces risk of stroke.
    • Take a baby aspirin every day. But talk with your doctor first.
    • Treat atrial fibrillation if you have it.
    • Treat diabetes if you have it.
    • Don’t smoke.

We can’t change our family medical history, race, or age. But there are many things we can do to reduce our risk of stroke. And if you think you or someone else might possibly be having a stroke, call 911 immediately.

Prompt medical care can mean the difference between life and death. Better safe than sorry dead.

III. Resources on Risk of Stroke

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