Recent research found that nine in 10 strokes can be easily prevented if patients stay away from 10 risk factors. The study was published this week in the British medical journal The Lancet.
Scientists at the McMaster University’ Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) in Ontario, Canada also found that some risk factors are more prevalent in some regions or communities than others.
Stroke risk has become a major public health concern in recent years in low- and middle income countries. Eighty-five percent of strokes are ischaemic which means that a major blood vessel is clogged by a clot, while just 15 percent are haemorrhagic which are more life-threatening as they cause bleeding within the brain.
For the study, researchers dug into stroke patient data in the INTERSTROKE study, which had unveiled 10 common risk factors for the condition in 6,000 patients from dozens of countries.
INTERSTROKE’s initial goal was to detect the primary causes of stroke in 20,000 participants on four continents. That comprehensive study had analyzed stroke risk in men and women, young and old populations, and within the two forms of stroke.
Lead author of the latest study Martin O’Donnell, MD, explained that INTERSTROKE was designed to explore risk factors for the condition in key populations on the planet’s major regions.
Researchers found that there are 10 risk factors affecting populations of all ages, sex, and races. The previous study has also revealed that high blood pressure is the largest known risk for stroke in all surveyed regions and populations.
In the recent research, scientists analyzed each risk factor and calculated how much stroke risk could be reduced for each individual factor. For instance, if high blood pressure is kept in check, stroke risk drops by 48 percent. If people are engaged in more physical activity their stroke risk can sink 36 percent, and if they keep an eye on their diets the risk could drop by 19 percent.
Staying smoking-free was associated with 12% lower stroke risk; treating heart conditions lowered the risk by 9 percent, staving off diabetes was linked to a 4 percent lower risk, while staying away from alcohol and stress pushed down stroke risk by 6 percent for each factor.
Moreover, stroke risk plunged 27 percent if cholesterol was kept in check. For the study, researchers measured apolipoprotein levels since they are much more accurate than total cholesterol readings.
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