06 May 2014 In Cardiovascular System

BACKGROUND: Observational studies have suggested a complex relationship between alcohol consumption and stroke, dependent on sex, type of stroke and outcome (morbidity vs. mortality). We undertook a systematic review and a meta-analysis of studies assessing the association between levels of average alcohol consumption and relative risks of ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes separately by sex and outcome. This meta-analysis is the first to explicitly separate morbidity and mortality of alcohol-attributable stroke and thus has implications for public health and prevention.

METHODS: Using Medical Subject Headings (alcohol drinking, ethanol, cerebrovascular accident, cerebrovascular disorders, and intracranial embolism and thrombosis and the key word stroke), a literature search of MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, CABS, WHOlist, SIGLE, ETOH, and Web of Science databases between 1980 to June 2009 was performed followed by manual searches of bibliographies of key retrieved articles. From twenty-six observational studies (cohort or case-control) with ischemic or hemorrhagic strokes the relative risk or odds ratios or hazard ratios of stroke associated with alcohol consumption were reported; alcohol consumption was quantified; and life time abstention (manually estimated where data for current abstainers were given) was used as the reference group. Two reviewers independently extracted the information on study design, participant characteristics, level of alcohol consumption, stroke outcome, control for potential confounding factors, risk estimates and key criteria of study quality using a standardized protocol.

RESULTS: The dose-response relationship for hemorrhagic stroke had monotonically increasing risk for increasing consumption, whereas ischemic stroke showed a curvilinear relationship, with a protective effect of alcohol for low to moderate consumption, and increased risk for higher exposure. For more than 3 drinks on average/day, in general women had higher risks than men, and the risks for mortality were higher compared to the risks for morbidity.

CONCLUSIONS: These results indicate that heavy alcohol consumption increases the relative risk of any stroke while light or moderate alcohol consumption may be protective against ischemic stroke. Preventive measures that should be initiated are discussed.

14 November 2012 In Drinking & Driving

AIMS: To give an overview of the volume of alcohol consumption, beverage preference, and patterns of drinking among adults (people 15 years and older) in central and eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia) and to compare it to southern and western Europe, Russia and Ukraine.

METHODS: Secondary data analysis. Consumption and preferred beverage type data for the year 2002 were taken from the WHO Global Status Report on Alcohol and the WHO Global Alcohol Database.

RESULTS: Average consumption in central and eastern Europe is high with a relatively large proportion of unrecorded consumption ranging from one litre in Czech Republic and Estonia to 10.5 l in Ukraine. The proportion of heavy alcohol consumption (more than 40 g of pure alcohol per day) among men was the lowest in Bulgaria (25.8%) and the highest in Czech Republic (59.4%). Among women, the lowest proportion of heavy alcohol consumption was registered in Estonia (4.0%) and the highest in Hungary (16.0%). Patterns of drinking are detrimental with a high proportion of binge drinking, especially in the group of countries traditionally drinking vodka. In most countries, beer is now the most prevalent alcoholic beverage.

CONCLUSIONS: Other studies suggest that the population drinking levels found in central and eastern Europe are linked with higher levels of detrimental health outcomes. Known effective and cost-effective programs to reduce levels of risky drinking should, therefore, be implemented, which may, in turn, lead to a reduction of alcohol-attributable burden of disease.

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