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Statins: How the drug prevents heart attacks and strokes

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Strokes occur when the arteries supplying the brain with nutrient-rich blood become blocked, causing blood flow to cease. The first signs of this event are lopsidedness in the body, slurred speech, or sudden confusion. Researchers are adamant preventive measures against the disease could lower the risk of stroke for millions. But one drink that is widely consumed in the UK is substantially increasing the risk of stroke for millions, according to a study.

Researchers have warned that drinking alcohol doubles the risk of having a stroke within an hour after consuming it.

The findings stem from a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston.

Researchers looked at a sample of 400 men and women who suffered an ischaemic stroke, and alcohol consumption in the hour before their symptoms appeared.

The findings revealed a twofold greater risk of having a stroke in the hour after drinking, compared to when no alcohol was consumed.

READ MORE: Stroke: Five healthy choices that could slash your risk by 60% – study findings

The risk, which decreased to about 30 percent within 24 hours, was the same for different types of alcoholic beverages.

Elizabeth Mostofsky, the co-author of the study, allied canvas said: “Even when we excluded people who were exposed to another risk factor in that hour, there was no change in effect.”

Speaking to ABCNews, Doctor Larry Goldstein, professor of medicine and director of the Duke Stroke Centre at Duke University Medical Centre in Durham, added: “Overall, the long-term stroke risk may be lower among persons who consume small to moderate amounts of alcohol.

“There, the long-term reduction may outweigh the immediate risk.”

Health bodies recommend limiting alcohol intake to one drink per day to lower the risk.

Having more than two drinks per day can cause the risk of having a stroke to grow sharply.

Mostofski said the most important finding of the study was that heavy drinking, even if it is only occasional, carries a marked increase risk for stroke.

One possible reason for the increased risk, according to the association Stroke, is potentially liver damage.

“Liver damage due to too much alcohol can stop the liver from making substances that help your blood to clot.

“This can increase the risk of having a stroke caused by bleeding in the brain.”

How to avoid having a stroke

There are many factors that influence the risk of having a stroke, so keeping all aspects of health in check is important.

Being obese, for example, is linked to a number of conditions that increase the chances of having a stroke.

Having diabetes or high blood pressure, are two major risk factors, so keeping both levels in check is paramount too.

Harvard Health writes: “Exercise contributes to using weight and lowering blood pressure, but it also stands on its own as an independent stroke reducer. “

Other risk factors can include atrial fibrillation because having an irregular heartbeat can cause clots to form in the heart.

As these clots travel to the brain, they produce a stroke.

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