~ Healthy Lifestyle Confers Significant Reduction In Women's Stroke Risk

óD Dye, Life Extension

The July issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine presented the findings of Harvard researchers that women who practice a healthy lifestyle have less than half the risk of stroke than women who smoke and fail to exercise regularly, eat healthy, and consume alcohol in moderation.

Tobias Kurth, MD, ScD, of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard School of Public Health and his colleagues evaluated findings obtained in the Women's Health Study, which enrolled 39,876 female health professionals to determine the effect of aspirin and vitamin E in cardiovascular disease and cancer prevention.

The current analysis included 37,636 women 45 years of age and older upon enrollment who had completed questionnaires concerning demographic, health history and lifestyle factors. Lifestyle factors were awarded zero to 20 health index points, with more points conferred for never smoking, consuming 4 to 10.5 alcoholic drinks per week, exercising at least 4 times per week, maintaining a body mass index of under 22, and consuming a healthy diet which included cereal fiber, folate, and omega-3 fatty acids, with a high ratio of polyunsaturated to saturated fat.

Over the ten year follow-up period, there were 356 ischemic strokes, 90 hemorrhagic strokes and 4 of undefined origin. Women whose scores were between 17 to 20 had a 55 percent reduction in the risk of total stroke and a 71 percent lower risk of ischemic stroke compared to participants who received 0 to 4 points.

The authors conclude, "In this large prospective cohort of apparently healthy women, a healthy lifestyle was associated with a substantial and statistically significant reduction in the risk of total and ischemic stroke with no apparent benefit in the incidence of hemorrhagic stroke. Our findings show the importance of healthy behaviors in the prevention of total and ischemic stroke."


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