Regular heavy drinking of any kind of alcohol can raise blood pressure and cause heart failure or irregular heartbeats over time with repeated drinking, in addition to stroke and other risks.

"For mid-aged adults, avoiding more than two drinks a day could be a way to prevent stroke in later age," said Pavla Kadlecova, statistician at St Anne's University Hospital's International Clinical Research Center in the Czech Republic.

In a study of 11,644 middle-aged Swedish twins who were followed for 43 years, researchers compared the effects of an average of more than two drinks daily (heavy drinking) to less than half a drink daily (light drinking).They found that heavy drinkers had about a 34 percent higher risk of stroke compared to light drinkers.

Mid-life heavy drinkers (in their 50s and 60s) were likely to have a stroke five years earlier in life irrespective of genetic and early-life factors.Heavy drinkers had increased stroke risk in their mid-life compared to well-known risk factors like high blood pressure and diabetes.

At around age 75, blood pressure and diabetes appeared to take over as one of the main influences on having a stroke, the authors noted."We now have a clearer picture about these risk factors, how they change with age and how the influence of drinking alcohol shifts as we get older," Kadlecova said.

The research appeared in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.


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