Chronic heavy drinking can negatively affect every aspect of a person’s life. This is especially true in the case of an individual’s health. Alcohol abuse is known for contributing to a number of health conditions that can range from mild to life-threatening. One of these conditions is the increased risk of stroke.
Studies in the past have suggested that moderate drinking may decrease the risk of certain health conditions like stroke and some diseases. However, more recent research has shown that even lower levels of alcohol consumption may increase the risk of certain types of strokes.
What Is A Stroke?
A stroke, sometimes referred to as a “brain attack,” occurs when the blood supply to the brain is suddenly cut off. When the brain stops receiving blood flow and oxygen, brain cells can begin to die. How long a person suffers from a stroke will determine the extent of lasting damage.
How a stroke will impact an individual depends on what part of the brain is affected by the stroke. Common symptoms of a stroke include sudden weakness, trouble speaking, difficulty walking, and loss of sensation. A stroke can also be completely painless or only cause a headache.
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There are three different types of stroke: ischemic stroke, intracerebral hemorrhage, and subarachnoid hemorrhage. Ischemic strokes are the most common type of stroke, with nearly 80 percent of strokes being ischemic.
Warning signs of a stroke include:
- sudden numbness on one side of the body
- trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- severe headache
- trouble understanding speech or speaking
- trouble walking or problems with coordination
Signs of a stroke typically come on suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere. Getting medical help immediately is imperative to reduce the damage caused by a stroke.
Can Alcohol Cause A Stroke?
Alcohol, and especially alcohol abuse, can significantly impact a person’s risk of stroke. In fact, a recent study found that one to two drinks a day can increase the risk of stroke by 10 to 15 percent. Four or more drinks a day increases the risk of stroke by up to 35 percent.
There are several ways in which alcohol may increase the risk of a stroke and may include:
- Increased Blood Pressure — Alcohol abuse can lead to high blood pressure. High blood pressure is the number one contributing factor to a person’s risk of stroke.
- Increased Weight — Being overweight and obesity can increase a person’s risk of stroke. Regularly consuming alcohol can make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight.
- Increased Risk Of Diabetes — Alcohol can affect the way the body uses insulin, which can contribute to the development of type II diabetes. Diabetes doubles a person’s risk of stroke.
- Increased Risk Of Liver Damage — Alcohol is a known cause of liver damage. When the liver is damaged, it stops making substances needed to help the blood clot. This can result in an increased risk of stroke.
- Increased Risk Of Atrial Fibrillation — Atrial fibrillation is a condition in which the heart beats irregularly. Excess alcohol consumption can trigger this condition, which can, in turn, increase a person’s risk of stroke.
The more alcohol a person drinks, the higher the risk of stroke. Additionally, research has found that even moderate amounts of alcohol can increase stroke risk. According to some studies, there is no safe amount of alcohol to consume when it comes to lowering the risk of stroke.
Can You Drink Alcohol After A Stroke?
Drinking alcohol after a stroke is not recommended for most people. Alcohol use and abuse can increase the risk of another stroke. People who drink alcohol after a stroke are also susceptible to a number of other potential negative effects.
Drinking alcohol after a stroke may:
- increase the risk of dangerous side effects of medications taken to reduce the risk of another stroke such as blood thinners
- increase a person’s vulnerability to the negative effects of alcohol
- contribute to weight gain, which can increase the risk of another stroke
- worsen depression or other mental conditions that commonly occur after a stroke
It’s important to speak with a doctor if you plan to drink after you have had a stroke. Additionally, if you were abusing alcohol before your stroke, cutting down or seeking treatment may be the best way to prevent another stroke.
Treatment For Alcohol Abuse And Addiction
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse or addiction, getting help can help lower your risk of stroke and other dangerous health conditions. Many people with an alcohol use disorder find the most success through formal treatment programs.
A formal treatment program will likely include inpatient or residential treatment. These programs offer comprehensive plans for addiction recovery that are catered to each person’s needs. Many inpatient programs require individuals to live at the rehab facility for several weeks or months while undergoing treatment.
To learn more about how alcohol abuse can increase stroke risk, contact a treatment specialist today.