Does alcohol thin blood?

Alcohol thins your blood because it prevents blood cells from sticking together and forming clots. This may reduce your risk of stroke types caused by blocked blood vessels.



However, due to this effect, drinking alcohol may increase the risk of haemorrhagic stroke—especially when you drink a lot. For men, this means drinking more than two glasses a day. For women, this is more than just a drink a day. Drinking alcohol—especially excessive drinking—can also pose other risks to your health.

Read on to learn more about this blood-thinning effect, how alcohol interacts with blood-thinning drugs, etc.

How does alcohol thin blood?

When you are injured, blood cells called platelets rush to the injured area. These cells are sticky, they clump together. Platelets also release proteins called clotting factors, which form plugs to close the pores.

When you are injured, blood clotting is beneficial. But sometimes, blood clots can flow in or to the arteries that provide oxygen-rich blood to your heart or brain. Blood clotting is called thrombosis.

When a clot prevents blood from flowing to your heart, it can cause a heart attack. If it blocks the blood flow to the brain, it can cause a stroke.

Alcohol can interfere with the clotting process in many ways:

It reduces the number of platelets in the blood, partly because it interferes with the production of blood cells in the bone marrow.

It makes the platelets you have less viscous.

Drinking one or two glasses of wine a day may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke caused by blocked blood vessels (ischemic stroke), just as taking aspirin every day can prevent stroke.

However, drinking more than three glasses of alcoholic beverages a day may increase your risk of stroke caused by cerebral haemorrhage (haemorrhagic stroke).

Is this a short term effect?

In people who drink moderately, the effect of alcohol on platelets is short-lived.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the classification of moderate drinking is as follows: 

For women of all ages: drink up to one drink per day 

For men 65 years of age or older: drink up to one drink per day 

For men under 65 years old: drink up to two drinks per day including :

 A glass of 12 ounces of beer

5 ounces of wine

1.5 ounces of liquid or a bottle of liquor

But for people who drink heavily, there may be a rebound effect, leading to an increased risk of bleeding, even if they have stopped drinking. Guidelines that exceed the above recommendations are considered heavy drinking.

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