MONDAY, Sept. 10, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- Heavy drinkers are at risk for stroke at a much younger age than other people, a new study says.
Researchers in France looked at the drinking habits and medical records of 540 people with an average age of 71 who had suffered a stroke caused by bleeding in the brain (intracerebral hemorrhage). Of the participants, 25 percent were heavy drinkers, defined as having three or more drinks per day, or about 1.6 ounces per day of "pure" alcohol.
Heavy drinkers had a stroke at an average age of 60, which was 14 years before the average age of those who weren't heavy drinkers, the researchers found.
Among people younger than 60 who had a stroke in the deep part of the brain, heavy drinkers were more likely to die within two years of the study follow-up than those who weren't heavy drinkers.
The findings are published in the Sept. 11 issue of the journal Neurology.
"It's important to keep in mind that drinking large amounts of alcohol contributes to a more severe form of stroke at a younger age in people who had no significant past medical history," study author Dr. Charlotte Cordonnier, of the University of Lille Nord de France, said in a journal news release.
Although the researchers found an association between heavy drinking and stroke, the study did not show direct cause and effect.
The American Heart Association has more about bleeding strokes.