May is National Stroke Awareness Month to raise awareness of strokes and how to prevent them. A recent study published October 24, 2018 in the BMJ showed that a healthy lifestyle is the best prevention of stroke.
A Healthy Lifestyle Meant that a Stroke was not Inevitable
The researchers had set out to see whether genes or lifestyle were the most important risks for having a stroke. There are definitely genetic risks, but the results of the study showed that a healthy lifestyle meant that a stroke was not inevitable in spite of genetic risks. This is very encouraging news. Our destiny is not programmed by genes alone. If we live a healthy lifestyle we can lower the risk for a stroke in spite of our genetic risks.
Method of the Cohort UK Biobank Study
Participants in the study were 306,473 adult men and women between the ages of 40-73 who were recruited from 2006-2010.
Four Good Lifestyle Factors Based on the American Heart Association
Those who had four good lifestyle factors based on recommendations by the American Heart Association had lower risk for strokes.
- Healthy diet
- Body Mass Index (BMI) less than 30kg/m2
- Moderate physical exercise two or more times a week for at least 150 minutes a week or 75 minutes of more vigorous weekly exercise
- Favorable (3-4 healthy lifestyle factors)
- Intermediate (two healthy lifestyle factors)
- Unfavorable (zero to one healthy lifestyle factor)
- Low risk – lowest third
- Intermediate risk (second third)
- High risk (highest third)
During a follow up period of 7.1 years
- 2077 had an incident stroke,
- 154 had an ischemic stroke
- 287 intracerebral hemorrhage
- 249 subarachnoid hemorrhage
Summary of the Highest Risks for Strokes
- Those who had high genetic risk factors had a 35% greater risk for having a stroke.
- Those who had bad lifestyle habits like smoking and poor eating habits and were also diabetic had a 66% increased risk of suffering a stroke, even if they did not have genetic risks.
- The study showed that smokers had twice the risk of suffering from a stroke than those who did not smoke.
- A high genetic risk together with an unfavorable lifestyle was associated with a higher than two fold increased risk for suffering a stroke compared to a low genetic risk and a favorable lifestyle.
- The risk for stroke was higher in men than women
Lifestyle Factors can be Changed
Fortunately, most lifestyle factors can be changed for the better to lower the risk for suffering from a stroke. The study also showed that the greater the number of good lifestyle factors a person had, the less chance they had to experience a stroke.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Stroke kills about 140,000 Americans each year which is one out of every 20 deaths.
- Stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability. Stroke reduces mobility in more than half of stroke survivors age 65 and over.
- Every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke. About 610,000 of these are first or new strokes.
- About 185,000 strokes (nearly one out of four happen to people who have had a previous stroke.
- About 87% of all strokes are ischemic strokes whereby blood flow to the brain is blocked.
- Stroke costs the United States an estimated $34 billion each year. This total includes the cost of health care services, medicines to treat stroke, and missed days of work.
To read more about stroke see our blog post from October 29, 2018.
Post-stroke Care at Royal Suites Healthcare and Rehabilitation
The Royal Suites Healthcare and Rehabilitation in scenic Galloway Township, New Jersey offers expert post-stroke care in a beautiful 5-star rehab and skilled nursing facility.
Following a healthy lifestyle can lower the risk for a stroke.