A new report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) has found that more Canadians were hospitalized last year due to conditions entirely caused by alcohol than heart attacks.
While 75,000 Canadians were hospitalized for heart attacks last year, 77,000 found themselves at the hospital for alcohol related reasons.
That means, on average, 212 Canadians were hospitalized each day of 2016 because of booze.
And that number does not include anyone who was treated in an emergency room but not admitted to the hospital.
CIHI put together a collection of ‘fast facts’ from the study:
- Males age 20 and older had higher rates of heavy drinking and hospitalizations than females in the same age group. However, among those age 10 to 19, girls had higher hospitalization rates than boys, with 63 per 100,000 and 45 per 100,000, respectively.
- The majority of hospitalizations were linked to mental health and addictions. Conditions related to mental health and addictions accounted for nearly 3 out of 4 hospitalizations entirely caused by alcohol.
- On average, there were more hospitalizations in the territories than in the provinces for harms caused entirely by alcohol. Hospitalization rates were higher in the west than in the east, with the exception of Nova Scotia.
- There is a paradox in that lower-income groups report less heavy drinking but have higher rates of hospitalization. The hospitalization rate for harms entirely caused by alcohol was 2.5 times higher for lower-income neighbourhoods than for the highest-income neighbourhoods, but low-income groups typically had a lower rate of heavy drinking.
With regards to the final point, CIHI points to the possibility of higher stress levels, limited social supports, and poor diet and physical inactivity for the reasons behind low income groups having such a high rate of hospitalization.
CIHI states that alcohol pricing policies are still the most effective and cost-effective method of reducing alcohol consumption and harm across Canada. But there are steps that can be taken to make it even more effective, such as adjusting pricing to align with the percentage of alcohol content – i.e. vodka (40%) would cost more than beer (5%).