Healthy Lifestyle Lowers Stroke Risk by Half in Women, Study


Healthy diet and lifestyle reduces stroke risk by 50 percent in women, according to a study by Karolinska Instituet in Stockholm, Sweden.

Cerebral infarction is the most common cause of stroke, accounting for up to 80 to 85 percent of all strokes. A stroke is caused when a blockage in a blood vessel prevents blood and oxygen to reach the brain.

"Because the consequences of stroke are usually devastating and irreversible, prevention is of great importance," said study author Susanna C. Larsson, in a press release. "These results are exciting because they indicate that a healthy diet and lifestyle can substantially reduce the risk of stroke, and these are lifestyle choices that people can make or improve."

For the study, 31,696 Swedish women, of an average age of about 60 years, completed a questionnaire about their diet and lifestyle. They were then followed for an average of 10 years. In the study, the researchers considered five factors that constitute a healthy lifestyle: healthy diet, moderate alcohol consumption, never smoking, physically active, and healthy body mass index (BMI).

A healthy diet majorly comprises of fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. Moderate alcohol consumption was defined as three to nine drinks per week. Physically active was described as walking or biking at least 40 minutes a day coupled with vigorous exercise for at least one hour per week. Healthy BMI was considered below 25.

Most of the participants had two or three of the healthy factors, only 589 of them were associated with all five healthy factors, and 1,535 had none of them. Overall, there were 1,554 strokes among participants. The risk of stroke progressively decreased with each additional healthy lifestyle factor.

The researchers found that women who had a healthier diet were 13 percent less likely to suffer cerebral infarction than those with unhealthy diets. Women with healthier diets showed a rate of 28 strokes per 10,000 women per year as compared to 43 strokes per 10,000 women per year among those with less healthy diets.

The finding is published in the journal Neurology.

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