Alcohol consumption can either increase or decrease your risk of having a stroke

Stroke is what happens when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted. This kills cells in the brain, which can result in permanent disability (both physical and mental functioning) and even death.

Stroke can be caused either by a clot obstructing the flow of blood to the brain (ischaemic stroke) or by a blood vessel rupturing and preventing blood flow to the brain (haemorrhagic). The most common type of stroke, ischaemic, accounts for almost 80% of all strokes.

The relationship between alcohol consumption and stroke is complex. Heavy consumption is associated with an increased risk for stroke, while there is a possible decreased risk associated with light-to-moderate consumption.

Increased risk

Heavy or excessive alcohol consumption can raise your blood pressure. Research suggests that this can increase the risk for both types of stroke (ischaemic and haemorrhagic).

Reduced risk

Some research has suggested that light-to-moderate alcohol consumption may have a protective effect against ischaemic stroke by increasing the levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (also known as 'HDL' or 'good cholesterol') and anti-clotting properties in the blood.