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Frequent alcohol intake leads to an increase in stroke risk among young people

standard drink in the U.S. contains about 14 g of alcohol.

A stroke, happens when something prevents blood flow to a portion of the brain or when a blood artery in the brain bursts. The brain either ages or suffers harm in both scenarios. Records from the national database of Korea revealed a definite connection between alcohol usage and the risk of stroke in young people.

The study says those who were moderate-to-heavy drinkers were more likely to have a stroke in early adulthood than those who consumed low amounts of alcohol each week.

Over the course of 5.6 years of follow-up, young adults who drank more heavily than light drinkers for two or more years were more likely to experience a stroke. This was the finding of Eue-Keun Choi, MD, Ph.D., of Seoul National University in the Republic of Korea, and co-authors. The study was published in Neurology.

Stroke risk rose as the years of moderate-to-heavy drinking in young adulthood increased. At 3 years, the adjusted HR was 1.22, and at 4 years, it was 1.23.

“The rate of stroke among young adults has been increasing over the last few decades, and stroke in young adults causes death and serious disability,” Choi said in a statement. “Since more than 90% of the burden of stroke overall can be attributed to potentially modifiable risk factors including alcohol consumption, and since a stroke in young adults severely impacts both the individual and society by limiting their activities during their most productive years, reducing alcohol consumption should be emphasized in young adults with heavy drinking habits as part of any strategy to prevent stroke,” he added.

Study:

Choi and colleagues assessed people ages 20 to 29 from the Korean National Health Insurance Service database who had four consecutive annual health exams from 2009 to 2012. Participants self-reported alcohol consumption at the exams.

The researchers calculated a cumulative alcohol burden score by assigning a score of 1 for each year weekly alcohol consumption was reported at 105 g or more. Burden scores ranged from 0 to 4.

“The proportion of males was overwhelmingly high with high cumulative alcohol burden, reaching approximately 95% in group 4,” Choi and co-authors observed. “Mean blood pressure, body mass index, obesity, waist circumference, central obesity, fasting glucose, total cholesterol, and triglyceride levels tended to increase as the cumulative alcohol burden increased.”

Result:

A total of 1,536,668 young people were evaluated, and 71.5% of them were male. 3,153 patients had an incident stroke over a mean follow-up of 5.6 years. As the number of years of moderate-to-heavy drinking grew, so did both incidence and risk rates.

“This positive dose-response relationship was primarily driven by hemorrhagic rather than ischemic stroke,” Choi and co-authors wrote. Compared with a cumulative alcohol burden score of 0, the HR for hemorrhagic stroke was 1.30 for a burden score of 2, 1.42 for a score of 3, and 1.36 for a score of 4.

Limitations of the study:

The authors noted that the overall study population was Korean. In addition, people who did not get four consecutive annual health examinations were excluded.

Alcohol use was self-reported and subject to recall bias.

Frequent alcohol intake leads to an increase in stroke risk among young people
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