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Good Physical Function Halves Stroke Risk
Date:12/10/2007

Researchers find pronounced effect in those over 40

MONDAY, Dec. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Being in good physical form appears to protect middle-aged and older men and women from stroke, a new British study suggests.

The finding highlights an apparent association -- rather than a direct cause-and-effect -- between the physical ability to function well and a reduced risk for stroke.

After sifting through thousands of quality-of-life reports provided by patients themselves, the research team found that those functioning at the higher end of the physical capacity spectrum appear to have half the risk for stroke as their poorest functioning compatriots, independent of other risk factors.

"We were surprised at the magnitude of the relationship, as this is comparable to established stroke risk factors such as smoking," noted study author Dr. Phyo Kyaw Myint, who works with the Clinical Gerontology Unit at Addenbrooke's University Hospital in Cambridge.

The findings are published in the Dec. 11 issue of Neurology.

Myint and his colleagues uncovered an apparent stroke-physical function connection by analyzing data concerning more than 13,600 British men and women between the ages of 40 and 79.

All the participants first completed a health examination and questionnaire between 1993 and 1997. At that time, patient blood pressure, body-mass index, respiratory capacity, and cholesterol levels were assessed. Researchers also noted any history of diabetes, smoking and alcohol consumption.

None of the patients had experienced any incidence of cancer, stroke or heart attack before their initial exam.

Eighteen months after the initial exam, patients completed a follow-up questionnaire by mail, in which patients were asked to indicate their degree of physical and social functioning; their mental health status; any physical and/or emotional limitations on carrying out routines; e
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