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A healthy lifestyle may reduce stroke risk by half

October 27, 2014

According to a new study from Sweden women with a healthy diet and lifestyle may be less likely to have a stroke by more than 50%.

In the observational study, 31,696 women with an average age of about 60 years completed a 350-item questionnaire about their lifestyle focusing on five factors: healthy diet, moderate alcohol consumption, never smoking, physically active and healthy body mass index (BMI) (1). A healthy diet was defined as eating regularly healthy foods such as vitamin-rich fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. Moderate alcohol consumption was defined as three to nine drinks per week. Physically active was defined as walking or biking at least 40 minutes a day along with more vigorous exercise at least one hour per week. Healthy BMI was considered below 25. During an average of 10 years cases of stroke were documented. The study results showed that compared with women with none of the five healthy factors, participants with all five factors had a 54-percent lower risk of stroke. The risk of stroke steadily decreased with each additional healthy lifestyle factor.

Women who had a healthier diet were 13% less likely to have a type of stroke called a cerebral infarction than those whose diet was not as healthy. Women with healthier diets had a rate of 28 strokes per 10,000 women per year compared to 43 strokes per 10,000 women per year among those with a less healthy diet. Cerebral infarction is the most common cause of stroke, accounting for up to 80 to 85% of all strokes. Cerebral infarction is caused by a blockage in a blood vessel preventing blood and oxygen from getting to an area of the brain. There was no relationship between the healthy factors and the risk of hemorrhagic stroke. Hemorrhagic stroke, which is caused by bleeding in and around the brain, accounts for about 15 to 20% of all strokes.

References

  1. American Academy of Neurology. Healthy Lifestyle May Cut Stroke Risk in Half for Women. Published online October 2014.