Small Alteration in Lifestyles Reduces Risk of Stroke

First Posted: Jun 07, 2013 07:52 AM EDT

Incorporating certain small changes in one's lifestyle can reduce the risk of having a stroke, according to a study published in the journal Stroke.

In this study, the risk of stroke was assessed based on the American Heart Association Life's Sample 7 health factors i.e. eat a healthy diet, manage blood pressure, maintain healthy weight, control cholesterol levels, be active, control blood sugar and avoid smoking, according to a press release.

"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," Mary Cushman, M.D., M.Sc., senior author and professor of medicine at the University of Vermont in Burlington, said in a press statement.

The scores of the Life's Sample were further divided into three different categories in which '0-4 was inadequate', '5-9 was average' and '10-14 was optimum cardiovascular health.

The study examined 22,914 black and white Americans in the age group 45 and above. They had participated in a study called Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS). The data was collected in the years 2003-2007 via telephone, at home exams and reviewing self administered questionnaires. For five years the researchers had followed the participants for stroke. All the participants were from the southern states of the U.S. where the mortality rate due to strokes is high.

Nearly 432 participants had strokes during the study. The risk of stroke was well predicted with the help of the seven health factors. Among the seven factors ideal pressure was an important indicator.

On analyzing the details, researchers noticed that one point increase in better scores was linked to 8 percent lower risk of stroke. Those with optimum scores had 48 percent less chances of strokes and the risk factor dropped to 27 percent with average scores.  Those who had ideal blood pressure status had a 60 percent lower risk of strokes in the future.

Compared to the whites, blacks had a worse score on Life's Simple 7 scores. The link of Life's Simple 7 score with stroke risk was similar in black and white participants.

"This highlights the critical importance of improving these health factors since blacks have nearly twice the stroke mortality rates as whites," Cushman said.

Even you can check your health status at

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