Middle-aged patients are more likely to avoid the risks of suffering a stroke if they remain fit and conduct a healthy lifestyle, as is suggested by an investigation from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

It is no secret that exercise and a healthy diet can lead to a more extensive and worry-free lifestyle. Healthy eating and at least a 30 min workout a day are recommended, especially for the middle-aged public.

Strokes can be reduced by following a healthy lifestyle
A recent study suggests that middle-aged patients are more likely to avoid risks of suffering a stroke if they conduct a healthy lifestyle. Credit: Fitness Fan UK

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stroke is the leading cause of death in the United States. Strokes take up to 130,000 American lives each year, meaning that 1 out of every 20 deaths is due to strokes.

From the year 2000 to 2006, the average age for suffering a stroke was 35 years and up. According to the CDC, every four minutes an American dies from a stroke, costing the nation around $34 billion per year in health care services.

A recent investigation has proven that the more fit a middle age person is less likely to suffer from a stroke in the remaining years of their lives. Proving, once again, the important role exercise plays in conserving life.

“These findings support the unique and independent role of exercise in the prevention of stroke,” said the senior study author Jarett Berry, who is an associate professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Texas.

Reducing life-risking factors

The investigation consisted in an observational study, with 19,815 adults between the ages of 45 and 50 years old. From which 79 percent were males and around 90 percent were Caucasian.

Authors of the study acted by measuring the subjects’ heart and lung exercise capacity-cardiorespiratory fitness to categorize them then with a high level of fitness, middle level or low level of fitness.

Finding that among the subjects’ those with higher fitness levels had at least a 37 percent lower risk of suffering from a stroke than those with lower fitness levels.

Researchers also measured the possibilities of a stroke including other data present in the subjects such as high blood pressure and diabetes type 2.  The results remain the same, those with higher fitness abilities had fewer chances of suffering from a stroke.

Strokes and ethnicity, age and geography

Even though stroke is one of the leading causes among Americans, the risks of suffering from one can variate according to the race and ethnicity of the patient, according to the CDC.

The risk of suffering from a stroke is twice as possible for an African American than for a Caucasian. Meanwhile Hispanics’ chances of suffering from a stroke variate between the rates of the Caucasian and the African-American races.

American Indians and Alaska Natives are more likely to suffer from strokes just as African Americans than any other race, the CDC affirms.

It has been proven, that the vast majority of strokes occur in patients older than 45 years old and more on patients that are 55 years and older, yet there’s a 34% chance that a person younger than 45 years, suffers from a stroke.

In the United States, the southeastern area is the one most populated by stroke patients.

Stroke prevention and symptoms

The most important part about strokes is early recognition. A rapid and fast treatment can prevent patients from suffering brain damage.

The most common signs of strokes are numbness or weakness in the face, arms, and legs at one side of the body. Confusion, difficulty in understanding speech or trouble speaking are also a common sign of a stroke.

Problems seeing in one or both eyes, trouble walking along with dizziness, loss of balance, lack of a coordination and severe headache are the main symptoms of a common stroke.

For a successful stroke treatment, patients need a diagnosis within the first three hours of showing symptoms, if not the patient might not be eligible for and efficient treatment.

A standard and quick test for knowing if someone is having a stroke is the FAST test, by measuring the following aspects of the possible stroke patient:

F- Face: Ask the patient to smile, to see if one side of the face drops

A-Arms: Ask the patient to raise both arms, to see if one drift downwards

S-Speech: Ask the patient to repeat a common phrase, to see if their words are strange or slurred

T-Time: observe the signs and call for an emergency ambulance in case of being positive the FAST test.

Treating fitness as a risk factor for stroke

With their investigation, researchers from the University of Texas in collaboration with the Cooper Institute in Dallas, Texas, want to make low fitness as a risk factor for strokes.

“Low fitness is generally ignored as an actual risk factor in clinical practice. Our research suggests that low fitness in midlife is an additional risk to target and help prevent stroke later in life,” said the first author of the study Ambarish Pandey.

Researchers recommend at least 30 minutes of workout daily or three times a week, to maintain a healthy lifestyle along with healthy eating.

Source: EurekAlert