Cardiologists at the Karolinska Institutet have discovered a link between alcohol consumption and the risk of stroke. The study, presented by Dr. Faris Al Khalili at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) 2016, found that alcohol-related hospitalizations are associated with a doubled risk of Ischemic stroke in patients with non-valvular fibrillation.
What is an Ischemic Stroke?
An ischemic stroke can be divided into two types: thrombic and embolic. The brain suffers damage when deprived of oxygen, resulting in a stroke. A thrombic stroke takes place when diseased or damaged cerebral arteries are impeded by the formation of a blood clot in the brain.
The objective of this study was to prove the correlation between alcohol abuse and stroke risk. Dr. Al-Khalili believes that alcohol abuse is associated with an increased chance of ischemic stroke in low risk patients.
According to Al-Khalili, atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most prevalent heart rhythm disturbance and is linked to a heightened risk of ischemic stroke. AF is also associated with increased mortality rates, a lesser quality of life, and a greater risk of heart failure.
Al-Khalili concluded: “Doctors should ask their AF patients about alcohol use and advise patients to cut down if they are drinking more than is recommended. The beneficial link between oral anticoagulant use and Ischaemic stroke in this low risk population without a recognized indication for these drugs needs further investigation, including the benefit to harm (bleeding) ratio.”
Dr. Al-Khalili also added that alcohol is an independent risk factor for stroke patients with AF. Alcohol consumption might induce AF, leading to an embolic stroke, or there could be a particular alcoholic effect which causes cerebral thromboembolisms.
“Alcohol-related hospitalization associated with doubled stroke risk in atrial fibrillation,” EurekAlert web site, August 31, 2016; http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-08/esoc-arh082616.php, last accessed August 31, 2016.