Drinking & Early Strokes

Inner brain strokes can happen more than a decade premature from heavy drinking

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Heavy drinking can cause all sorts of health problems—higher risk for central brain bleeds among them. Why take the risk? Moderate drinking does not cause the same trouble.

A recent study looked at 540 intracerebral hemorrhage cases and brain scans. Results found that heavy drinking was linked to earlier strokes and deaths.

Intracerebral hemorrhage is when a blood vessel inside the brain bursts and causes damage from the pressure of the leaking blood to the brain.

"Drink in moderation."

Charlotte Cordonnier, MD, PhD, from the University of Lille Nord de France in Lille, France, led investigations into links between drinking and risk of stroke.

This particular type of stroke usually affects the more central parts of the brain associated with motor skills and body regulation.

Dr. Cordonnier said, “Heavy drinking has been consistently identified as a risk factor for this type of stroke, which is caused by bleeding in the brain rather than a blood clot.”

Researchers interviewed 540 intracerebral hemorrhage patients about their drinking habits from 2004-2009. At the time of the study the average age of the patients was 71 years old.

A total of 25 percent of the group reported heavy drinking patterns. Heavy drinking was defined as consuming three or more drinks per day of alcohol.

Researchers reviewed computed tomography (CT) scans on each of the stroke patients. They were able to see that the heavy drinkers had their stokes around age 60, while non-heavy drinkers didn’t have their strokes until around age 74.

Dr. Cordonnier said, “It’s important to keep in mind that drinking large amounts of alcohol contributes to a more severe form of stroke at a younger age in people who had no significant past medical history.”

Results of the study also found that heavy drinking was a risk factor for death among stroke patients under 60 years of age.

This study was published in September in Neurology.

Funding for this study was provided by the University Lille Nord de France, the Association pour le Developpement de la Recherche et de l’Innovation dans le Nord – Pas de Calais.

No conflicts of interest were found.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 16, 2012
Last Updated:
September 19, 2012