Alcoholic Drinks Pose Health Risks for Seniors

According to a study published April 4, 2019 in Lancet,  alcoholic drinks pose health risks for seniors and increase the risks for strokes and death.

China Kadoorie Biobank Study

Participants in the China Kadoorie Biobank study were 512,715 adults. These adults were recruited from 10 areas of China between June 25, 2004, and July 15, 2008. The researchers followed them for about 10 years until January 1, 2017, documenting their consumption of alcoholic drinks and their incidence of cardiovascular disease (including ischemic stroke, intracerebral hemorrhage, and heart attacks).


Drinking alcohol was shown to increase blood pressure and the risk of stroke, but appeared in this study to have little effect on the risk of myocardial infarction (heart attacks). See more about how even moderate drinking raises blood pressure and risk for stroke and heart attacks in our blog post from March 11, 2019.

Almost Half (40%) of American Seniors Drink Alcoholic Beverages

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), about 40% of seniors in the United States over the age of 65 drink alcoholic beverages, while 78% of them also are taking medicines that can dangerously interact with alcohol.

Disease Conditions Most Likely to have Bad Interactions with Alcohol

The following disease conditions are those that are the most likely to have bad interactions with alcohol.

  • High blood pressure that goes up even higher with the consumption of alcohol
  • Coronary heart disease, particularly congestive heart failure (CHF)
  • Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss and dementia
  • Neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinsons and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).
  • Depression
  • Epilepsy
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Liver disease
  • Mood disorders

Drugs that can have Bad Interactions with Alcohol

Prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs and herbs can have bad interactions with alcohol and some of these are:

  • Flagyl can lead to extreme nausea, blackouts and psychiatric problem when taken with alcohol.
  • Anti-depressive medications
  • Sleeping pills
  • Tranquilizers like Valium
  • Anti-psychotic medicines
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen
  • Pain killers like aspirin and paracetamol
  • Anti-histamines
  • Cough medicines and syrups
  • Medications to regulate the heartbeat
  • Blood pressure lowering drugs
  • Muscle relaxing medicines
  • Statins taken by drinkers can lead to more severe muscle and liver problems.
  • The combination of statins, alcohol and the anti reflux medicine Zantack can cause very bad problems

Problems for Seniors who Consume Alcoholic Drinks

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) recommends that seniors drink only one alcoholic drink a day.

  • Aging increases sensitivity to alcohol and seniors can get drunk much faster and on less alcohol than when they were younger.
  • Drinking alcohol increases the risk for falls and accidents in seniors.
  • Seniors who drink are less alert.

Drinking and Dementia

A French study published March 1, 2018 in the Lancet of over a million people diagnosed with dementia found that drinking alcohol was the main cause of all dementias, especially early onset dementia. According to Dr. Jurgen Rehm the co-author of the study, alcohol disorders shorten life by 20 years and one of the main causes of death is dementia.

The good thing this study showed was that alcohol use was also the most preventable cause of dementia.

Short-term Rehabilitation after a Stroke, Heart Attack or Surgery

If you or your loved one are after a cardiovascular event like a stroke or heart attack and are in need of short-term rehabilitation, the Park Crescent Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in East Orange, New Jersey offers post-stroke care and cardiac rehabilitation at its best.


Since alcohol has been found to be the main preventable cause of all dementias and and also increases the risk for strokes, then seniors should cut down or stop drinking. Also, seniors who suffer from chronic diseases and are on prescription or over-the-counter drugs should not drink alcohol without consulting with their doctor or pharmacist, as many of these medicines interact dangerously with alcohol.



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