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The Effects of Drinking Alcohol on Stroke and Blood Pressure

Find out what two new studies say about drinking and your risk of stroke—along with the benefits of alcohol-free wine.

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Every day seems to bring new research on how alcohol impacts your health, with the findings often serving up contradictory—and confusing—suggestions for staying healthy. Drink wine for antioxidants! But not too much! What's a guy to do?

Well, two new studies took a look at theeffects of drinking (surprise, surprise), and here's what they found out about blood pressure and stroke risk.

In the first, which was published in the journal Neurology, French researchers found that heavy drinking—defined as three or more drinks a day—could lead to earlier stroke. (On average: Heavy drinkers suffered stroke a whopping 14 years earlier than moderate or non-drinkers, at age 60. Yikes.)

And while it's hard to say that drinking habits alone cause stroke—heavy drinkers may have other unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking and being physically inactive, that could increase their risk—it does line up with what's already known.

That is, that drinking alcohol can raise your blood pressure and triglycerides (a type of cholesterol), both of which are risk factors for stroke. So what's the answer for a man who likes to imbibe?

Moderation, of course—and perhaps you can sub in a bit of alcohol-free red wine to keep yourself (and your blood pressure) in check. Because that other study, published in Circulation Research, seemed to find that it's the antioxidants (those healthy compounds found in grapes) and not the alcohol that gives you the heart-healthy benefit.

Yeah, we know that's not what you wanted to hear...

 

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