Research Article

Alcohol consumption as a risk factor for poor outcome after aneurysmal subarachnoid haemorrhage.

BMJ 1992; 304 doi: (Published 27 June 1992) Cite this as: BMJ 1992;304:1663
  1. S. Juvela
  1. Department of Neurosurgery, Helsinki University Hospital, Finland.


    OBJECTIVE--To evaluate the effect of factors existing before aneurysmal subarachnoid haemorrhage on outcome of haemorrhage. DESIGN--Prospective follow up study. SETTING--Helsinki University Hospital. PATIENTS--291 consecutive patients (149 men) aged 15 to 65 years admitted within 96 hours after the bleeding. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Potential risk factors (baseline characteristics, health habits, and clinical variables) for poor outcome after haemorrhage (dependent state in the activities of daily living, or death) were studied using multiple logistic regression. RESULTS--One year after haemorrhage, 179 (62%) patients were independent in the activities of daily living and 28 (10%) dependent; 84 (29%) had died. Risk of poor outcome was predicted, after adjustment for sex and age, by clinical condition at admission according to the Glasgow coma scale (p less than 0.0001); occurrence of rebleeding (relative risk 7.1, 95% confidence interval 2.8 to 18.0, p less than 0.0001) or delayed cerebral ischaemia (10.3, 4.2 to 25.4, p less than 0.0001); surgery on an aneurysm (0.13, 0.05 to 0.35, p less than 0.0001); and heavy consumption of alcohol (4.5, 1.8 to 11.0, p = 0.0014). Heavy drinking remained a significant risk factor after additional adjustment for hypertension, body mass index, and presence of intracerebral haematoma. Heavy drinkers had a more unfavourable outcome after rebleeding and delayed ischaemia than did others with rebleeding or ischaemia. Those who had salicylates in urine on admission had delayed ischaemia with fixed neurological deficits less commonly than others. CONCLUSIONS--Heavy drinking impairs outcome mainly through severe rebleeding and delayed ischaemia and to a lesser extent through a poor initial condition and presence of intracerebral haematoma.