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Alcohol use can increase stroke risk

August 1, 2010
By CATHY BROWNFIELD, Family Recovery Center

The headline is attention-grabbing, isn't it? According to 2007 statistics, stroke was the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Last week, a "small study" from Harvard School of Public Health and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston says stroke risk is 2.3 times higher in the hour after drinking alcohol.

In June, an international study came out suggesting that lifestyle changes can prevent strokes.

ABC News reported in July that "the risk of stroke more than doubles in the hour after consuming alcohol."

Alcohol raises blood pressure, increases the fats (triglycerides) in the blood, and prompts irregular heartbeats, leading to heart disease. It's about how large amounts of alcohol break down in the blood stream. The heart has to work harder.

The more alcohol that is consumed, the longer the process of oxidation takes to remove the alcohol from the blood, and the more gets absorbed into the lining of the stomach here enzymes break it down.

In the bloodstream it is carried to all of the body's organs including the brain.

"Alcoholism also contributes to an abnormal increase of abdominal fat which causes the heart to work harder," it was reported.

The international study involved stroke patients from 22 developed and developing countries and found that high blood pressure, smoking, diet, abdominal obesity, physical activity, lipids or fats, Type 2 diabetes, alcohol intake, stress and depression and heart disorders were risk factors for stroke.

"the international study suggests high blood pressure and nine other risk factors are associated with most of the risk of stroke." Just because you are taking medication to prevent stroke doesn't mean you won't have one. The study recommends that quitting smoking and eating more fish and fruits will help to prevent stroke.

When you suspect stroke, The National Stroke Association advises you to remember to Act F.A.S.T. (F=Face) Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop? (A=Arms) Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? (S=Speech) Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Are the words slurred? Can (s)he repeat the sentence correctly? (T=Time) Time is of the essence. Note the time of the first symptoms, call 911 or get to the hospital fast.

The symptoms of stroke are:

SUDDEN numbness or weakness of face, arms or legs, especially on one side of the body.

SUDDEN confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.

SUDDEN trouble seeing in one or both eyes.

SUDDEN trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.

SUDDEN severe headache with no known cause.

Family Recovery Center (FRC) promotes the health and well being of individuals, families and communities. Do you know what your risks are for stroke? FRC has education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse issues and help you to reduce your risk of stroke. To learn more, contact us at 964. N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, FRC is funded, in part, by the United Way of Northern Columbiana County.



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