heavy-drinking-strokeNew research suggest that consuming more than two alcoholic beverages daily in middle-age could increase the risk of stroke more than traditional factors like high blood pressure and diabetes, Science Daily reports. Using the Swedish Twin Registry, researchers analyzed data from 11,644 middle-aged Swedish twins who were followed for 43 years.

While earlier research has found that alcohol affects stroke risk, this is the first study which locked down the differences with age, according to the article. The effects of an average of more than two drinks daily (“heavy drinking“) to less than half a drink daily (“light drinking”) was compared by the researchers.

The researchers found:

  • Heavy drinkers had about a 34 percent higher risk of stroke.
  • Mid-life heavy drinkers (in their 50s and 60s) were likely to have a stroke five years earlier in life.
  • When compared to traditional risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes, heavy drinkers had an increased risk of stroke in their mid-life.
  • Blood pressure and diabetes became one of the main influences on having a stroke at around age 75.

“We now have a clearer picture about these risk factors, how they change with age and how the influence of drinking alcohol shifts as we get older,” said Pavla Kadlecová, M.Sc., a statistician at St. Anne’s University Hospital’s International Clinical Research Center in the Czech Republic.

The research showed that regular heavy alcohol consumption can raise blood pressure and cause heart failure or irregular heartbeats, repeated heavy drinking can lead to stroke and other risks over time.

“For mid-aged adults, avoiding more than two drinks a day could be a way to prevent stroke in later productive age (about 60s),” Kadlecová said.

The findings were published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.