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A small drink a day could reduce stroke risk

A small drink a day could reduce stroke risk
17th December 2016

Drinking a glass of wine a day could help to protect against the most common form of stroke. A new study has found that consuming up to three units of alcohol a day may help to cut the chances of suffering an ischaemic stroke, which is the most common form of the illness. 

Ischaemic stroke is when a blood clot stops the blood supply, which is what happens in around 85 per cent of all stroke cases. However, the Karolinska Institutet and the University of Cambridge have found that moderate alcohol consumption could reduce the chances of suffering from these blood clots.

The researchers looked at 20,000 adults, discovering that heavy drinking of any kind of alcohol led to an increase in risk of all types of strokes. In comparison, light drinking of alcohol - no more than one and a half units - reduced the risk of ischaemic stroke by around 10 per cent. The risk reduction was similar among those who were drinking up to three units, classed as moderate drinkers.

While drinking up to three units cut the chances of suffering an ischaemic stroke, it did not cause a reduction in risk of experiencing less common strokes, such as subarachnoid haemorrhage or intracerebral haemorrhage. 

Published in the journal BMC, the research looked at 25 individual studies, including data taken from the Swedish Mammography Cohort and the Cohort of Swedish Men. In total, the studies included 21,000 victims of strokes. 

Dr Susanna Larsson, lead author of the study and associate professor at the Karolinska Institutet said to The Telegraph: "Whether light-to-moderate alcohol consumption, generally defined as one to two drinks per day, is protective against cardiovascular disease remains a controversial topic.

"Alcohol consumption in moderation has been associated with increased high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, improved insulin sensitivity, and decreased levels of fibrinogen and inflammatory markers."

However, drinking alcohol also leads to increased blood pressure, which puts you at higher risk of stroke, which is perhaps why those who drink over three units daily have a greater chance of experiencing a stroke. 

Dr Larsson continued to say: "Previous research has found an association between alcohol consumption and lower levels of fibrinogen – a protein in the body which helps the formation of blood clots.

"While this may explain the association between light to moderate alcohol consumption and lower ischaemic stroke risk, the adverse effect of alcohol consumption on blood pressure – a major risk factor for stroke – may increase the risk of haemorrhagic stroke and outweigh any potential benefit."

To be on the safe side, it is recommended that you do not consume alcohol on a daily basis and that you follow the recommended daily allowances.