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Ninety Percent of Stroke Risk Due to 10 Risk Factors
Date:6/18/2010

Eighty percent of stroke risk due to five lifestyle factors, international study finds

FRIDAY, June 18 (HealthDay News) -- A large international study has found that 10 risk factors account for 90 percent of all the risk of stroke, with high blood pressure playing the most potent role.

Of that list, five risk factors usually related to lifestyle -- high blood pressure, smoking, abdominal obesity, diet and physical activity -- are responsible for a full 80 percent of all stroke risk, according to the researchers.

The findings come the INTERSTROKE study, a standardized case-control study of 3,000 people who had had strokes and an equal number of healthy individuals with no history of stroke from 22 countries. It was published online June 18 in The Lancet.

The study -- slated to be presented Friday at the World Congress on Cardiology in Beijing -- reports that the 10 factors significantly associated with stroke risk are high blood pressure, smoking, physical activity, waist-to-hip ratio (abdominal obesity), diet, blood lipid (fat) levels, diabetes, alcohol intake, stress and depression, and heart disorders.

Across the board, high blood pressure was the most important factor, accounting for one-third of all stroke risk.

"It's important that most of the risk factors associated with stroke are modifiable," said Dr. Martin J. O'Donnell, an associate professor of medicine at McMaster University in Canada, who helped lead the study. "If they are controlled, it could have a considerable impact on the incidence of stroke."

Controlling blood pressure is important, he said, because it plays a major role in both forms of stroke: ischemic, the most common form (caused by blockage of a brain blood vessel), and hemorrhagic or bleeding stroke, in which a blood vessel in the brain bursts.

In contrast, levels of blood lipids such as cholesterol were important in the risk of ischemic s
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