Lifestyle can double stroke risk

Feb. 20, 2009 at 12:47 PM

NORWICH, England, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- People with unhealthy lifestyles have double the risk of stroke than those who eat and drink sensibly, don't smoke and exercise, a British study found.

The study involved 20,040 men and women in Britain ages 40-79, who were taking part in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer Study. From 1993-97, participants completed a detailed health and lifestyle questionnaire and underwent a thorough health examination by trained nurses.

Participants scored one point for each of four healthy behaviors: current non-smoking, physically active, moderate alcohol intake and blood vitamin C levels indicating fruit and vegetable intake of at least five servings a day.

An individual could therefore have a total health behavior score ranging from zero to four, with a higher score indicating more protective behavior.

Study participants were tracked for an average of more than 11 years. Strokes were recorded using death certificates and hospital discharge data. There were 599 strokes during the follow-up period.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, found that after adjusting for factors that may have affected the results, the risk of stroke was 2.3 times greater in those with a score of zero compared to those with a score of four.

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