Global study shows 9 of 10 risk factors associated with stroke are modifiable. Hypertension is the biggest risk factor for stroke.
Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States with almost 130,000 deaths each year. Every 4 minutes someone dies from a stroke, but new research suggests that strokes are largely preventable. Better understanding of the causes of stroke can help people around the world to significantly reduce the rate of stroke and deaths related to it.
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According to recent global research, 10 risk factors that are responsible for 9 of 10 strokes worldwide can be modified and could lead to a lower number of strokes. Risk factor is a condition or behavior whose recurrence increases the likelihood of developing a disease. Better strategies and changes in lifestyle can help avoid stroke.
There are two major categories of strokes: those caused by blood clots which is responsible for 85% of strokes and those caused by bleeding into the brain which accounts for 15% of strokes. Researchers involved thousands of people from different age groups, gender and societies in countries across Europe, Asia, America, Africa and Australia to identify the main causes of stroke and came up with 10 modifiable risk factors, but the rankings of those factors vary regionally.
Researchers found that hypertension or high blood pressure was the most potent risk factor for stroke. Almost half of the strokes can be prevented if hypertension is eliminated. The number of strokes could be cut even further if people exercise more and incorporate healthy food into their diet. Cigarette smoking, diabetes, stress and alcohol intake also increase the odds of having stroke. Many of those risk factors are interlinked and attack people in tandem like obesity and diabetes.
Some risk factors were more evident in certain regions such high blood pressure causes 40 percent of strokes in North America, Australia and Western Europe, but nearly 60 percent in Southeast Asia. However, their collective importance was similar everywhere.
“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,” said lead researcher Dr. Martin O'Donnell. “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.”
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