April 9 (UPI) – Middle-aged women can still reduce their risk of having a stroke by eating well, exercising and not smoking, according to a new study published Thursday in the journal Stroke.
Simply by being healthier, the researchers say the risk of stroke in women decreases by 25 percent, based on data analysis of 60,000 women in their 50s, 60s and 70s.
Diet changes were found to reduce the risk of strokes by as much as 23 percent, the researchers added.
“We found that changing to a healthy lifestyle, even at age 50, still has the potential to prevent strokes,” study co-author Goodarz Danaei, an associate professor of cardiovascular health at Harvard T.H., said in a news release. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. “Women who made lifestyle changes in midlife reduced their long-term risk of total stroke by almost a quarter and ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke, by more than a third.” .
Overall, women are more likely than men to have a stroke, die from a stroke, and have poorer health and physical function after a stroke, according to the American Stroke Association. On average, women have their first stroke at age 75.
Based on that, Danaei and her team theorized that making lifestyle changes in midlife could help reduce the risk of stroke among women. They analyzed the Nurses’ Health Study, which includes information on the health of nearly 60,000 women who enrolled, on average, at 52 years of age, and were followed for an average of 26 years.
The researchers focused on the impact of quitting smoking, exercising for 30 minutes or more daily and gradual weight loss in overweight women. They also studied the impact of making recommended dietary modifications that emphasize eating more fish, nuts, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, as well as less red meat, no processed meat, and less alcohol.
They found that 4.7 percent of women who did not perform lifestyle interventions, dietary changes, suffered a stroke of some kind, with 2.4 percent having an ischemic stroke and 0.7 percent having a stroke. hemorrhagic brain. However, following the non-dietary guidelines (quitting smoking, exercising daily, and losing weight) reduces the risk of overall stroke by 25 percent and ischemic stroke by 36 percent.
Additionally, sustained changes in diet reduced the risk of total stroke by 23 percent.
The researchers also found that increasing consumption of fish and nuts and reducing consumption of raw red meat appeared to have a positive impact in reducing the risk of stroke. However, the degree of impact of these dietary changes was not as great as that achieved through increased physical activity, smoking cessation, and maintaining a healthy weight.
“We also estimate that exercising 30 minutes or more a day can reduce the risk of stroke by 20 percent,” said Danaei.