7 simple lifestyle changes can slash stroke risk–study

Lifestyle counts in all spheres, but in stroke prevention, a few small changes can go a long way in lowering the risk of the killer disease, finds a novel study.

A stroke is an attack caused by a blood clot or rupture of blood vessels that disrupts the flow of blood to the brain.

As a consequence, cells become damaged and begin to die, resulting in part of the brain to stop functioning. Every year, thousands of people suffer a stroke. Many die as a result and thousands are left with stroke-related disabilities.

“We used the assessment tool to look at stroke risk and found that small differences in health status were associated with large reductions in stroke risk,” said Dr. Mary Cushman, senior author and professor of medicine at the University of Vermont in Burlington.

Life’s Simple 7 health factors assessed in stroke risk
In a bid to determine whether stroke risk can shrink with simple lifestyle changes, the researchers conducted a study.

It involved 22,914 black and white Americans with an average age of 65 who were part of a nationwide population-based study called the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS). The subjects had no history of heart problems at the onset of the study.

The investigators focused on seven factors which are known to heart healthy. These included, being physically active, eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, controlling cholesterol, managing blood pressure, controlling blood sugar and not smoking.

As a part of the study, the participants furnished information pertaining to Life’s Simple 7 health considerations via telephone, questionnaires and at-home tests.

Experts rated the subjects for each of the seven factors. A score between 0 and4 was classified as inadequate, five to nine points as average and 10 to 14 points for ideal cardiovascular health.

Revelations of the study
During the five year follow-up, 432 strokes were documented. It was noted that the healthier the lifestyle adopted, the lower were odds of having a stroke.

The analysis found every one-point increase in score slashed the menace of stroke by eight percent. People with excellent scores exhibited a 48 percent lower hazard than those with poor scores. Individuals with average scores had a 27 percent lower risk.

While all seven factors conferred benefits, the analysis revealed blood pressure was the most important indicator of stroke risk. Moreover, non-smokers and people who kicked the habit a year before the onset of the study had a 40 percent lower risk of suffering the lethal disease.

The study’s findings are described in detail in the journal Stroke.