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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 December, 2003, 02:12 GMT
Stroke warning to binge-drinkers
Drinking and smoking
Almost two in five men admit bingeing
Stroke experts have issued a warning about the dangers of binge drinking linked to the Christmas party season.

The Stroke Association says women are particularly at risk if they drink large amounts of alcohol.

Men who drink more than five units of alcohol - half a bottle of wine or two and a half pints of beer - have double the normal stroke risk.

The Stroke Association's Margaret Goose said: "By getting too 'merry' people are risking their lives."

Small amounts of alcohol - one or two units a day - actually appear to reduce the risk of stroke caused by blood clots blocking the arteries supplying the brain - the cause of the majority of strokes.

However, even small amounts of alcohol may increase the smaller risk of a stroke caused by a rupture of a blood vessel.

Larger problem

However, large scale studies involving thousands of men and women suggest that drinking larger amounts could be a major source of trouble.

Drinking a large quantity of alcohol in one "binge" raises blood pressure, thought to be one of the risk factors for stroke.

Ms Goose said: "Christmas is a time when many people drink more alcohol than they would normally.

"We want people to enjoy themselves, but we have to make people aware that by getting too 'merry' they are risking their health and their lives.

"We are especially concerned by the binge-drinking culture among women, as more women die from stroke than men."

Major killer

Approximately 130,000 people in England and Wales suffer a stroke, ever year, with a third likely to die within the first 10 days.

A stroke deprives an area of the brain of oxygenated blood, leading to the death of brain cells, which can impair or destroy a number of key functions.

Depending on the severity of the stroke, patients may have difficulty moving, talking, or swallowing, and may never fully regain these abilities.

Binge drinking is on the increase in the UK. In 2000, 28% of men and 17% of women drank more than the recommended weekly alcohol limit.

In contrast 38% of men and 28% of women admitted binge-drinking - drinking more than eight units of alcohol a night for men, six for women - on occasion.


SEE ALSO:
Binge drinking costing billions
19 Sep 03  |  Health
Q&A: The costs of alcohol
19 Sep 03  |  Health
Carry on drinking?
19 Sep 03  |  UK


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