Not-So-Happy-Hour: Risk of Stroke Doubles During Hour After Alcohol Consumption

Happy hour may not be so happy after all—at least not for your health. According to researchers, having just one drink to help you “wind down” after work is harmful enough to put you at a higher risk of a stroke for one hour after consuming the alcoholic beverage. And that applies equally to all alcoholic beverages—be it wine, beer, or hard liquor.

Dr. Murray A. Mittleman (no relation), the senior author of the Stroke Onset Study, discovered that alcohol consumption causes an increase in the chance of suffering an ischemic stroke, which are caused by a blood clot in a vessel in or leading to the brain. Dr. Mittleman and his colleagues interviewed 390 ischemic stroke patients about three days after their strokes regarding many aspects of their lives. Of those patients, 14 had consumed alcohol within an hour before suffering their stroke. Furthermore, when compared to times when alcohol wasn’t used, the relative risk of stroke after alcohol consumption was:

* 2.3 times higher in the first hour;
* 1.6 times higher in the second hour; and
* 30 percent lower than baseline after 24 hours.

The problem with drinking is that blood pressure rises and blood platelets become stickier right after alcohol consumption. This can lead to the possibility of a clot forming and causing an ischemic stroke. If you’re like most people, and enjoy a happy hour now and then, the American Heart Association recommends that you do so in moderation. This means that men should consume no more than two drinks per day and one drink per day for women (one drink is equivalent to a 12-ounce beer, 4 ounces of red wine, 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits, or 1 ounce of 100-proof spirits). High alcohol consumption is also equated with obesity, alcoholism, stroke, breast cancer, suicide, high blood pressure, and accidents. So enjoy the occasional drink, but remember to do so in moderation—stroke is the number 3 killer and major cause of long-term disabilities in the United States.

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