Ten modifiable risk factors are responsible for 9 out of 10 strokes worldwide. Knowing what these risk factors are could protect you and your loved ones.
These findings are based on a study of 26,000 people around the world. It was conducted by researchers of the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) of McMaster University. Stroke is one of the biggest causes of death and disability, especially in low income and middle income countries. There are two major types of stroke: ischaemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke. Ischaemic stroke is where a blood clot blocks a blood vessel. These are responsible for 85 percent of all strokes. Hemorrhagic strokes occur when there is bleeding into the brain and account for 15 percent of strokes.
The researchers stated “We have confirmed the ten modifiable risk factors associated with 90% of stroke cases in all regions, young and older and in men and women. The study also confirms that hypertension is the most important modifiable risk factor in all regions, and the key target in reducing the burden of stroke globally.”
The incidence of strokes could be cut by 48 percent if high blood pressure was corrected. It could be reduced by more than a third if people did more exercise; and cut by 19 percent if they improved their diet. The reduction in stroke incidence could be 12 percent if people stopped smoking and 9 percent if heart problems were adequately treated. The figures are a 4 percent reduction for diabetes elimination, 6 percent for both alcohol reduction and stress reduction, and a 27 percent reduction by improving blood fats including cholesterol.
A lot of the risk factors are strongly associated with obesity, diabetes and unhealthy diets. Significantly reducing your risk of having a stroke can be as simple, or as difficult as changing your diet and lifestyle. I believe reducing stress is one of the most important factors because it typically drives people towards eating unhealthy foods, smoking or drinking too much alcohol. If you can feel calmer during the day and sleep soundly at night, you are much more likely to make healthy lifestyle choices. See my tips for managing stress.