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Excessive Drinking tied to Atherosclerosis and Increased Risk of Stroke

Update Date: Oct 21, 2013 01:13 PM EDT

Alcohol, even if it is consumed happily in social settings, such as dinner parties or happy hours, is considered to be a bad substance that can cause several complications. When people drink in excess, alcohol can lead to health issues as well as mental issues due to poor decision-making. Now in a new study done in Finland, researchers conducted an 11 year-follow-up report and found that excessive alcohol consumption speeds up the progression of atherosclerosis and increases the risk of a stroke.

For this population-based study, the researchers looked at 2,600 men who resided in eastern Finland. The participants had taken part in the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study (KIHD) that had a follow up time of 11 to 20 years. The study had used the Nordic alcohol consumption inventory to measure alcohol intake. Data on strokes were provided by the FINMONICA stroke register, the Finnish national hospital discharge register and death certificate registers.

The researchers found that for men who drank six or more drinks in one sitting, they sped up the progression of atherosclerosis, which is when the arteries start to build up plaque. The researchers also found that risk of stroke increased for men who experienced at least one hangover within a year. The researchers noted that hangovers increased the risk independently, which meant that the amount of alcohol consumed did not play a factor in the increased stroke risk. The data revealed that underlying health conditions, such as hypertension and obesity also contributed to the increased risk of stroke. The researchers added that drinking excessively twice a week increased risk of stroke mortality.

Other factors that increase one's risk of stroke include coronary artery disease, cardiac insufficiency, atrial fibrillation, smoking, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol. The study was presented by Sanna Rantakömi, MSc at the University of Eastern Finland. The study on hangover risk, "Hangover and the risk of stroke in middle-aged men," can be accessed here

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