Nine out of every ten strokes could be prevented if people live a healthier lifestyle, applying ten health rules, study suggests. Strokes are the leading cause of death in the United States and are one of the principal causes of adult disability. But according to analyzed data of nearly 27,000 people from all the continents, 90 percent of strokes are preventable.

The INTERSTROKE study was lead by Dr. Martin O’Donnell and Prof. Salim Yusuf of the Population Health Research Institute at McMaster University, along with researchers from 32 different countries. Results from its first phase found that there are ten risk factors for stroke, which are all modifiable, of 6000 participants from 22 countries.

The very same process of plaque build-up in the heart arteries occurs within the arteries of the brain. Credit: Living 4 A Healthy Heart

The size and scope of the study helped to find the stroke risk factors across all the main regions of the world, O’Donnell said, according to The Indian Express.

The leading risk factor is hypertension

The study confirmed that the most important risk factor in all regions is hypertension, and its prevention could mean a significant reducement of the burden of stroke around the world, Dr. O’Connell added.

Researchers made an estimate of the proportion of strokes attributed to each of the ten factors by calculating the population attributable risk (PAR) for each one. The PAR, which is an estimate of cases of a disease that could be reduced by eliminating an individual risk factor, was 47.9 percent for hypertension, followed by 35.8 percent for physical inactivity, 26.8 percent for lipids, 23.2 percent for poor diet, 18.6 percent for obesity, 12.4 percent for smoking, 9.1 percent for cardiac causes, 5.8 percent for alcohol intake, 5.8 percent for stress and 3.9 percent for diabetes. Combined, the total PAR for the top ten factors detected was 90.7 percent.

The same risk factors and PAR were similar in all regions. However, researchers found that some individual risk factors vary by region. The PAR for factors such as hypertension ranged from 38.8 percent in Western Europe, North America, and Australia, to 59.6 percent in Southeast Asia. In China, the PAR for physical inactivity was the highest, while drinking alcohol was more likely to lead to stroke in Africa and Asia.

The ten health rules to prevent stroke are lowering blood pressure, exercising, eating healthy, maintaining a healthy weight, preventing diabetes, lowering cholesterol, cutting down on alcohol, stopping smoking, reducing stress and the ingest of medication to control heart arrhythmia.

Authors hope that these new findings will help with the development of strategies to reduce stroke risk globally and programs that focus on the characteristics and specifications of individual regions. “It is highly preventable, and these modifiable risk factors identify a target for government and health bodies,” Professor Peter Langhorne, national coordinator of the study said, according to Scotsman.

“This is really a public health issue, so it’s about promoting healthy lifestyles and better access to healthy foods and exercise,” he added.

Source: The Lancet