Might Alcohol Consumption Reduce Stroke?

A J shaped curve illustrating the link between alcohol consumption and ischemic stroke has been reported, suggesting that a certain amount of alcohol would be beneficial compared against absolute abstinence and excessive consumption. 

¿Existe un consumo de alcohol que pueda reducir los strokes?

In order to shed some light on this matter, this study looked at alcohol consumption patterns and their effect on stroke in a middle-aged population (40 to 64).

5 consumption patterns were defined according to frequency and amount. Group 0 included only abstainers; group I, subjects drinking ≤30 g/d and <5 d/week; group II, ≤30 g/d and ≥5 d/week; group III, >30 g/d and <5 d/week; and group IV, >30 g/d and ≥5 d/week. 

Here we should remember how we calculate alcohol consumption. 

Alcohol by volume (abv) is expressed as degrees and measures the absolute content of ethanol in 100 cc; namely, the percentage of alcohol a drink contains.  

Read also: Is Alcohol Good, Bad, or Neutral for Cardiovascular Health?

For example, a 13% abv wine contains 13 cc of absolute ethanol every 100 cc. Abv is expressed on labels as (°) or (%).

The formula is defined by volume consumed (cc) x alcohol by volume % x 0.8, all this divided by 100. We should ask patients what they usually drink (that will provide abv) and how much (volume) to calculate whether their consumption pattern is beneficial or unhealthy. 

The study included 152469 participants (mean age 50.2) from the National Health Insurance Service-National Sample Cohort, in Korea followed up to mean 9 years, and interesting conclusions were reached. 

Read also: Alcohol and Atrial Fibrillation: More Reasons for Moderate Consumption.

Compared against abstainers, patients drinking less than 5 days a week (groups I and III) showed significantly fewer strokes (group 1, HR 0.71 CI 95%, 0.59 to 0.85 and group III HR 0.8, CI 95%, 0.68 to 0.93) during the first 7 years compared against baseline. The other patterns did not show differences. 

This effect was observed in the first years of follow up and was later attenuated. 


There was a reduction of ischemic stroke with specific alcohol consumption patterns limited to the first follow up period. Doctors should be prudent when advising patients on alcohol consumption bearing in mind not just the risk of stroke, but the long terms effect on health. 

Original Title: Drinking Patterns and Risk of Ischemic Stroke in Middle-Aged Adults. Do Beneficial Drinking Habits Indeed Exist?

Reference: Wookjin Yang et al. Stroke. 2020;51:00–00. DOI: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.120.032144.

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