Increased Stroke Risk Is Related to a Binge Drinking Habit

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Background and Purpose—Heavy alcohol consumption increases the risk for all strokes, whereas moderate regular alcohol consumption is associated with a lower risk for ischemic stroke. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of different drinking patterns on stroke risk, independent of average alcohol intake.Methods—A prospective cohort study of 15 965 Finnish men and women age 25 to 64 years who participated in a national risk factor survey and had no history of stroke at baseline were followed up for a 10-year period. The first stroke event during follow-up served as the outcome of interest (N=249 strokes). A binge drinking pattern was defined as consuming 6 or more drinks of the same alcoholic beverage in men or 4 or more drinks in women in 1 session. Cox proportional-hazards models were adjusted for average alcohol consumption, age, sex, hypertension, smoking, diabetes, body mass index, educational status, study area, study year, and history of myocardial infarction.Results—Binge drinking was an independent risk factor for total and ischemic strokes. Compared with non–binge drinkers, the hazard ratio for total strokes among binge drinkers was 1.85 (95% CI, 1.35 to 2.54) after adjusting for average alcohol consumption, age, and sex; the association was diluted after adjustment for other risk factors. Compared with non–binge drinkers, the risk for ischemic stroke was 1.99 (95% CI, 1.39 to 2.87) among binge drinkers; the association remained statistically significant after adjustment for potential confounders.Conclusions—This study found that a pattern of binge drinking is an independent risk factor for all strokes and ischemic stroke.

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