Can Alcohol Increase Risk Of Stroke?

Prolonged alcohol abuse may lead to severe health conditions, including an increased risk of stroke. Risk factors for stroke include a person’s age, weight, and levels of alcohol consumption.

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Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS


Alcohol addiction is characterized by an obsession or compulsion to drink alcohol regardless of the negative social or health consequences. One such consequence is a higher risk of stroke.

Research shows that long-term effects of alcohol may increase the risk of stroke as much as high blood pressure (hypertension), heart disease, or diabetes. Treatment for alcohol use disorder is essential to lower the chances of stroke.

What Is A Stroke?

A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is severely restricted or stopped. If the brain is deprived of oxygen for too long, it may lead to permanent brain damage.

There are two types of stroke that may occur in a person, a hemorrhagic stroke or ischemic stroke.

Hemorrhagic Stroke

A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when one or more blood vessels in the brain burst, which causes irritation and swelling in the surrounding brain tissue.

Ischemic Stroke

Ischemic stroke happens when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked by a blood clot or a buildup of fatty deposits and cholesterol (plaque).

Sometimes a transient ischemic attack (TIA) may occur. In this incidence, all the symptoms of a stroke may be present but only last for a few minutes. This is also called a “ministroke”.

Effects Of Alcohol Abuse That May Lead To Stroke

A stroke can afflict anyone, including non-drinkers, but your risk will increase if you engage in risk factors such as heavy drinking. This is due to the way alcohol affects your body over time.

Alcohol addiction contributes to health problems including obesity, cardiovascular disease, and high lipoproteins (cholesterol). These issues may lead to clogged arteries and other risk factors for stroke.

Heavy drinking tends to also influence other unhealthy habits such as increased tobacco use or smoking, liver problems, and bleeding in the brain, all of which are contributing factors to stroke.

Any amount of alcohol may increase the risk of ischemic stroke, but the exact levels of alcohol consumption that raise the likelihood of a stroke are still unclear.

Research does show, however, that people with a low to moderate alcohol intake have a 34 percent lower instance of stroke than that of heavy drinkers.

Symptoms Of A Stroke

Symptoms of a stroke may vary, but it’s important to seek emergency help immediately if you notice the symptoms of a stroke in yourself or others.

Symptoms of a stroke may include:

  • weakness in the arms or legs, usually on one side of the body
  • trouble speaking or understanding
  • vision problems in one or both eyes
  • atrial fibrillation (irregular heart rate)
  • dizziness
  • seizure
  • severe headache due to intracerebral hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain)

Once emergency services arrive, a healthcare professional will analyze the person’s symptoms and ask several questions from a “stroke questionnaire” to evaluate the severity of the stroke.

There is no cure for a stroke once it occurs, but medical treatments are effective when started immediately.

Treatment Options For Alcohol Addiction

To lower the alcohol-related risk factors of stroke, it’s important that you or your loved one seek help from an evidence-based rehab center.

Treatment programs may include services such as:

If you suspect that someone may be abusing alcohol, an inpatient or outpatient treatment program will assist them in achieving an alcohol-free life.

Find Treatment Services For Alcohol Abuse At Bedrock Recovery Center

Call Bedrock Recovery Center today for more information about alcohol use and abuse and our evidence-based residential treatment program.

Our team can answer any questions you may have, and may also provide referrals for medical advice.

  1. National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  2. National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  3. National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  4. National Library of Medicine
  5. National Library of Medicine: PubMed

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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