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Drinking Too Much May Cause Early Stroke

Update Date: Sep 11, 2012 07:44 AM EDT

A new study suggests that heavy drinkers may be at risk for early stroke.

According to the study, heavy drinkers (three plus alcoholic drinks per day) may experience a stroke almost a decade and a half earlier when compared to those who do not drink that much.

"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," said study author Charlotte Cordonnier, MD, PhD, with the University of Lille Nord de France in Lille, France. "Our study focuses on the effects of heavy alcohol use on the timeline of stroke and the long-term outcome for those people."

To conduct the study, researchers interviewed 540 people, who had a type of stroke called intracerebral hemorrhage and quizzed them about their drinking habits. The patients, on average, were aged 71 and were also required to go through CT brain scans.

Also, the caregivers or relatives of the participants were interviewed too, about the participants' drinking habits. About 25 percent of the participants were reportedly heavy drinkers who took about 1.6 ounces per day of "pure" alcohol, Medical Xpress reported.

The analysis of the study revealed that while heavy drinkers experienced a stroke at an average age of 60, moderate drinkers got it 14 years after them.

It was also found that those heavy drinkers, who were below 60 years of age who had a stroke that occurred in the deep part of the brain, didn't survive for more than two years after the study follow-up.

"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," said Cordonnier.

The research is published in the September 11, 2012, print issue of Neurology.

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