Healthy Lifestyle Important for Reducing Stroke Risk

Risk of stroke for those with an unfavorable, intermediate, or favorable lifestyle.

Risk of stroke for those with an unfavorable, intermediate, or favorable lifestyle.

Researchers have concluded recently that individuals who are following a healthy lifestyle had significantly lower risk of stroke as compared to those who have unhealthy habits, such as smoking and poor diet. They noted this this finding was regardless of genetic risk factors.  Their study focused on examining the relationship between a healthy lifestyle and stroke risk.  They outlined a healthy lifestyle to include the following four factors:  not currently smoking, healthy diet, BMI <30, and participating in moderate physical activity at least twice a week. The researchers found that individuals who had an “unfavorable” lifestyle, as defined by having 0 or 1 healthy lifestyle factors, were at a 66% increased risk for stroke as compared to those with a “favorable” lifestyle, defined by having 3 or 4 healthy lifestyle factors.

High genetic risk for stroke, when coupled with an unfavorable lifestyle profile, was associated with twice the increased risk of stroke compared to those with a low genetic risk and a favorable lifestyle profile.  The researchers noted this finding is particularly important for men, who appear to be at a higher risk.  They noted that men with an unfavorable lifestyle had an 82% relative risk of a stroke as compared to 36% for women with an unfavorable lifestyle. The effect of smoking appears to be almost twice as strong as compared to the other lifestyle factors.

This study demonstrates the importance of adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, specifically not smoking, exercising regularly, eating healthy, and maintaining an appropriate weight.  The researchers note that while they cannot imply cause and effect through an observational study, their work emphasizes the important relationship between stroke and a healthy lifestyle.  Additionally, these same four factors discussed have been found to lower the risk of heart disease.  The Healthy Lifestyle Center can help by providing assistance with adopting healthy lifestyle behaviors such as those discussed in this study.  Additionally, we can help by providing specific education on the healthy lifestyle factors such as eating healthier, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight.

By Matt Lewandowski


Sources. :  Rutten-Jacobs, et al. (2018).  Genetic risk, incident stroke, and the benefits of adhering to a healthy lifestyle: Cohort study of 306,473 UK Biobank participants. BMJ; Healthy Lifestyle Trumps Genes for Stroke Risk – fewer strokes with good exercise and diet habits, despite high genetic risk.  Kate Kneisel, Medpage Today, Oct. 26, 2018.