A recent metaanalysis of several clinical studies indicates that drinking small amounts of alcohol each day can reduce one’s risk of stroke. However, heavier drinking seems to increase the risk.

According to a dose-response analysis published this month, drinking 20-30 grams of alcohol – which is about one and a half or two typical drinks – each day is associated with reduced stroke risk, according to Yu-Hao Zhou, of Shanghai Seventh People’s Hospital, as reported in the International Journal of Cardiology.

But any benefit disappears and possible harm can be done when consumption is more than 40-45 grams per day, or three or more drinks.

Some of the possible reasons for these findings could be because low concentrations of alcohol boost HDL cholesterol levels, increase fibrinolysis and decrease platelet aggregation.

Meanwhile, heavy consumption of alcohol is associated with higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke. This is because larger consumption of alcohol may cause higher blood presses and lower platelet aggregation.

Earlier studies that looked at the associate of drinking and stroke risk had found mostly inconsistent findings. Some of the earlier studies and analyses showed that light or moderate drinking is associated with lower heart attack and ischemic stroke risk. But others showed that having even two drinks per day could increase hypertension risk, as well as risk of atrial fibrillation. These are two major stroke risk factors.

To look further into this issue, researchers did a meta-analysis of 28 clinical studies that included more than one million subjects. The studies were done in the US, Europe, Japan, and China.

Moderate drinking was not associated with any higher risk of stroke, including ischemic and hemorrhagic.

The authors of this analysis stated that the study was limited because of the lack of data on the pattern and duration of drinking in most studies. However, this meta-analysis still indicates that there is a possible connection between drinking heavily and high stroke risk.

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