Oct 28, 2020

Alcohol and Stroke, or Was My Grandfather Pickled and Other Stuff

My grandfather came from Austria, the home of Schnapps, which he drank at every opportune time, 
some a week long, of the Jewish holiday regimen. And some after Saturday services. And some before bed. I mean, it was constant. Coming from the German word "obst" meaning fruit, Schnapps was his favorite beverage, and here, as an immigrant, he put cherry or apricot preserves in the Schnapps just as they did "back home."

Schnapps is any of various strong, dry, distilled liquors commonly with a fruit flavor, and has high alcohol levels of 30% or higher, but my grandfather never got drunk, or maybe he was always drunk and my young eyes couldn't see it because that's how he was all the time. Though despite his choice of "diet," he was healthy and lived until 96. Go figure. 

But not everybody is so lucky. Alcohol in steady and huge amounts contribute to stroke risk, and now I know why. Aside from high blood pressure (the most prevalent), diabetes, and atrial fibrillation, all factors in stroke risk, excessive drinking can cause liver damage, and stop the liver from making substances that help your blood to clot. This factor can increase your risk of having a stroke caused by bleeding in your brain, thus a hemorrhagic stroke or, by some interpretations, an aneurysm. 

By the way, in 49 of the 50 states, and the District of Columbia, the legal limit for driving under the influence of alcohol is 0.08. In Utah, the legal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit is 0.05. Commercial drivers have a limit of 0.04. Any detectable BAC is a violation for individuals under the age of 21.

    The Dietary Guidelines recommend that if alcohol is consumed, it should be in moderation—up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men—and only with adults of legal drinking age.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration lists these effects on driving at different blood alcohol content levels:

    • 0.02 BAC: You are likely to feel relaxed and have some
    •  loss of judgment. You aren't able to quickly track the
    •  movements of other vehicles, pedestrians, or animals. You
    •  lose some of your ability to do two things at once, so you
    •  are more likely to be distracted.
    • 0.05 BAC: You begin to exhibit loss of small-muscle
    •  control, such as being able to focus your eyes, and you
    •  can have lowered alertness. You have even worse ability
    •  to track moving objects. Your ability to steer is degraded. If
    •  an emergency situation develops, such as needing to
    •  brake quickly or maneuver around an unexpected
    •  blockage, you are likely to have a poorer response.
    • 0.08 BAC: You will usually exhibit poor muscle
    •  coordination, loss of balance, slower reaction time, slurred
    •  speech, loss of acuity in vision and hearing, difficulty in
    •  detecting danger, and impaired judgment, self-control
    • , reasoning, and memory. When driving, you have difficulty
    •  with speed control and recognizing and reacting to signals
    •  and emergency situations. You have an increased risk of
    •  injuries in general, and particularly those related to driving
    •  a vehicle.
    • 0.10 BAC: At this level, you will have further deterioration
    •  of your abilities. It will be hard to maintain lane position
    •  and to brake when needed.
    • 0.15 BAC: You will have poor muscle control and ability to
    •  balance. You are likely to vomit. You will have significant
    •  problems in controlling your vehicle and paying attention.
    With the holiday season just around the corner, and if your family and friends like you, have a care and keep them happy by not having a stroke from excessive drinking. 

    Luck surely came to my grandfather.