Hereditary Risk Of Stroke Can Be Offset By A Healthy Lifestyle

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Hereditary Risk Of Stroke Can Be Offset By A Healthy Lifestyle
Hereditary Risk Of Stroke Can Be Offset By A Healthy Lifestyle

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Hereditary risk of stroke can be offset by a healthy lifestyle

Stroke is a complex disorder caused by both genetic and environmental factors, including diet and lifestyle. People with a high genetic risk for stroke can reduce their likelihood of developing stroke by following a healthy lifestyle, according to a study published in BMJ (British Medical Journal).

Hereditary risk of stroke can be offset by a healthy lifestyle
Hereditary risk of stroke can be offset by a healthy lifestyle

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Stroke is a complex disorder caused by both genetic and environmental factors, including diet and lifestyle. People with a high genetic risk for stroke can reduce their likelihood of developing stroke by following a healthy lifestyle, according to a study published in BMJ (British Medical Journal).

An international team of researchers studied the relationship between the genetic risk of stroke and actual ("incident") stroke in a large population of British adults. They wanted to find out if following a healthy lifestyle can compensate for the influence of genetics on the risk of stroke.

Scientists have developed a genetic risk score based on 90 variants of genes associated with stroke. The participants were 306,473 white men and women from the British Biological Information Database of Half a Million British Adults (Biobank). They were between the ages of 40 and 73 and had no history of stroke or myocardial infarction.

The commitment to a healthy lifestyle was based on four factors:

no smoking;

  • a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and fish;
  • no overweight or obesity (BMI less than 30);
  • regular exercise.

Hospital records and official death records were used to identify cases of stroke over a seven-year follow-up period. The researchers noted that in all categories of genetic risk and lifestyle, men were more likely to develop stroke than women.

People with a high genetic risk are 35% more likely to have a stroke compared to people with a low genetic risk, regardless of lifestyle. However, an unfavorable lifestyle, as opposed to a favorable one, increased the risk of stroke by 66%, and this applied to all categories of genetic risk.

High genetic risk, coupled with an unfavorable lifestyle, more than doubled the likelihood of developing a stroke compared with a low genetic risk and a favorable lifestyle.

These studies highlight the benefits of a healthy lifestyle for the entire population, regardless of genetic risk. And among the lifestyle factors, smoking and being overweight or obese were the most significant.

The study was observational and therefore did not imply unambiguous causal conclusions. It had several limitations, such as a narrow range of lifestyle factors and the impossibility of applying more generalized results due to the participation of people of only European descent.

However, the large sample size allowed a detailed study of the combination of genetic risk and lifestyle. The researchers concluded that the findings "highlight the potential for lifestyle adjustments to reduce the risk of stroke in the entire population, even in people with a high genetic risk for stroke."

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