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Study Finds Making Lifestyle Changes In Middle-Age May Decrease Risk of Stroke

Lifestyle factors that increase your risk of stroke include high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, high blood cholesterol levels, heavy drinking, high salt and high fat diet and lack of exercise. According to a new study, women who make certain lifestyle changes in their 50’s may lower their risk of total stroke by up to 25%.

For their study, the researchers looked at data from the Nurses' Health Study, which included 59,727 women with an average age of 52. They estimated the effect of doing the following things on stroke risk over a 26-year period:

  • Quitting smoking;
  • Exercising daily
  • Losing weight
  • Eating more fish, nuts, fruit, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Eating less red meat and processed meat
  • Drinking less alcohol

Women who made no lifestyle changes were found to have a 4.7% risk for total stroke, 2.4% for ischemic stroke, and 0.7% for hemorrhagic stroke. Women who quit smoking, exercised daily, and lost weight had a 25% reduced risk of total stroke and a 36% reduced risk of ischemic stroke. Dietary modifications reduced the risk of total stroke by 23%. Reducing consumption of red meat and processed red meat reduced the risk of ischemic stroke. Increasing consumption of fish reduced the risk of hemorrhagic stroke.

The study was conducted by researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. It was published online ahead of print on April 9, 2020 in the journal Stroke.

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