Healthy lifestyle cuts stroke risk: study
A person’s odds of suffering a stroke might be significantly reduced by maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle, which includes not smoking, exercising daily, consuming a healthy diet, drinking alcohol in moderation and maintaining a healthy weight, according to a study released today.
In the study, people with these five healthy lifestyle habits had about an 80 percent lower risk of ischemic stroke compared to people with none of the healthy habits. An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain becomes blocked; it is the most common type of stroke.
This study shows that a “low-risk” lifestyle recommended to lower the risk of multiple chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, may also help ward off stroke, the study team notes in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.
The National Institutes of Health-funded study, led by Dr. Stephanie E. Chiuve of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, involved 43,685 men (average age 54) and 71,243 women (average age 50) - all of whom were participants in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study or the Nurses’ Health Study.
All of the study subjects, who were free of major chronic diseases at the outset, provided information on their medical condition and lifestyle factors every two years between 1986 and 2002 for health professionals and 1984 and 2002 for nurses. During the study, 1,559 women and 994 men had strokes.
The investigators focused on the following five healthy lifestyle factors: not smoking; maintaining a normal body weight (body mass index less than 25); exercising 30 minutes or more each day; taking a multivitamin for at least five years; drinking alcohol in moderation (one-half to one drink a day for women and one-half to two drinks a day for men) and eating a healthy diet, with an emphasis on high amounts of fruits and vegetables, cereal fiber, chicken and fish, nuts, legumes and low amounts of trans and saturated fats.
Women with all five healthy lifestyle factors had a 79-percent lower risk of suffering any type of stroke and 81-percent lower risk of ischemic stroke, compared with women with none of the lifestyle factors, the researchers found.
Men with all five healthy lifestyle factors had a 69-percent lower risk of any type of stroke and an 80-percent lower risk of ischemic stroke, compared to men with none of the lifestyle factors.
“More than half of ischemic strokes—52 percent in men and 54 percent in women—may have been prevented through adherence to a healthy lifestyle,” Chiuve noted in a written statement issued by the American Heart Association. “For total stroke, 47 percent of cases in the women and 35 percent of cases in the men may have been prevented.”
“This study shows that following a healthy lifestyle, which has been associated with up to 80 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease and 90 percent lower risk of diabetes, may also prevent more than half of ischemic strokes,” Chiuve said.
SOURCE: Circulation, August 11, 2008.
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