Seven lifestyle changes—including quitting smoking and maintaining a healthy weight—could greatly reduce U.S. residents' stroke risks, according to a study in the journal Stroke.
For the study, University of Vermont researchers assessed the stroke risk of nearly 23,000 U.S. residents over age 45. Each participant's stroke risk was scored from 0 (poor compliance) to 14 (optimal compliance with the American Heart Association's "Life's Simple 7" (LS7) health factors:
1. Be active;
2. Eat a healthy diet;
3. Control cholesterol;
4. Control blood sugar;
5. Manage blood pressure;
6. Maintain a healthy weight; and
7. Refrain from smoking.
In the five years following the initial stroke risk calculations, participants suffered 432 strokes. The researchers found that every one-point increase in their LS7 score decreases the chance that a participant would have a stroke within five years.
Blood pressure was the best predictor of whether a patient would suffer a stroke, researchers say. "Compared to those with poor blood pressure status, those who were ideal had a 60% lower risk of future stroke," lead author Mary Cushman said in a statement.
Meanwhile, participants who did not smoke or quit smoking more than a year before the initial calculations had a 40% lower risk of having a stroke compared to individuals that smoked.
Overall, researchers found that black participants had lower LS7 scores. "This highlights the critical importance of improving these health factors since blacks have nearly twice the stroke mortality rates as whites," Cushman said (Medical News Today, 6/10; Preidt, HealthDay, 6/6).