To evaluate the association between different patterns of alcohol consumption and the risk of ischemic stroke in young or middle-aged men.
One hundred fifty-six patients and 153 control subjects were included in this case-control study. The pattern and the estimated average weekly intake of alcohol were assessed using a structured questionnaire. The pattern of drinking was defined as regular (daily or almost daily) or irregular (up to three times per week), and the weekly amount of consumption was defined as nondrinking, light-to-moderate drinking (up to 150 g/wk), moderate drinking (> 150 to 300 g/wk), and heavy drinking (> 300 g/wk). Multiple stepwise logistic regression models were used, and adjustments were carried out for potential confounders.
Heavy alcohol intake associated with an increased risk of stroke (odds ratio, 4.45; 95% confidence interval, 1.09 to 18.1), whereas the risk tended to be reduced in light-to-moderate drinkers (odds ratio, 0.54; 95% confidence interval, 0.28 to 1.05). Accounting for the pattern of alcohol intake in addition to the average weekly amount in grams, regular light-to-moderate drinking showed a significant inverse association with stroke (odds ratio, 0.12; 95% confidence interval, 0.02 to 0.65), and an irregular pattern of consumption attenuated this association. Based on the same multivariate analyses, other significant independent risk factors for stroke were arterial hypertension, coronary heart disease, and history of snoring, whereas the contributions of age, diabetes mellitus, smoking, and body mass index proved to be nonsignificant.
Light-to-moderate alcohol intake appears to have an inverse association with the risk of ischemic stroke. The beneficial effect appears to be most prominent if the consumption of alcohol is regular and evenly distributed throughout the week, whereas a sporadic or an occasional pattern of drinking seems to weaken the association. This study also supports the role of heavy drinking as an independent risk factor for ischemic stroke.