Twenty-six episodes of ‘The A-Files’ air throughout Alcohol Awareness Month on YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Alcohologist.com and AddictedMinds.com, among other web and social media sites. Episode Y looks at strokes, especially those at younger ages than anticipated. Strokes, and strokes at earlier ages, have been linked to alcohol misuse in a study by the University of California at San Francisco. “When a young person has a stroke, it is probably much more likely that the cause of their stroke is something other than traditional risk factors,” according to one of the lead researchers in the 2013 study reported in the journal Stroke.
The UCSF researchers identified long-term changes in the heart as a result of alcohol abuse or the disease of alcoholism may put younger users at higher-than-average risk earlier in life.
Stroke disables more people in the United States than breast cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year close to a million people have a stroke – either ischemic or hemorrhagic. A study of 2007 data found that almost five percent of people who had a stroke that year were between ages 18 and 44.
“Substance abuse is common in young adults experiencing a stroke,” according to the research team. “Patients aged younger than 55 years who experience a stroke should be routinely screened and counseled regarding substance abuse. One in five of strokes involves drinking.”
The study does not offer evidence that patients’ drug or alcohol use directly caused their strokes. It’s possible, for example, that people who drink also see their doctors less often.
A separate study in the journal Stroke in Jan. 2015 found that people who average more than two drinks a day have a 34 percent higher risk of stroke compared to those whose daily average amounts to less than half a drink. Midlife heavy drinkers were likely to have a stroke five years earlier in life, regardless of genetic and lifestyle factors. The stroke risk in those two studies, of course, is long term, but there’s immediate danger as well. According to a 2010 Canadian study, one drink instantly doubles stroke risk. Two hours following that drink, the stroke risk remains 1.6 times higher than someone who isn’t drinking. When it comes to stroke risk, drinking is like walking out into the road, waiting for the truck to hit.
The entire 26 episode HD series is available on disc, along with fact sheets, for helping professions. See the preorder special at tr.im/TheAFiles