- Researchers found that healthy living can reduce clot risk by two-thirds
- Moderating alcohol intake and exercising can bring major health benefits
- The most common cause of stroke is a blood clot on the brain
- Researchers quizzed 32,000 woman and ten years later 1,500 had strokes
- Experts claim that reducing blood pressure is a good anti-stroke method
Fiona Macrae for the Daily Mail
23:44 GMT, 8 October 2014
23:58 GMT, 8 October 2014
Women could more than half their odds of having a stroke by making five simple changes to their lifestyle, researchers believe.
Staying thin, eating lots of fruit and vegetables, regularly walking or cycling, not smoking and drinking in moderation, cuts the chances of having a stroke by 54 per cent, a study found.
The risk of the most common form of stroke, caused by a clot in the brain, is cut even more – by 62 per cent, or almost two-thirds.
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Researchers found that older woman with good diets were at a far less risk of suffering a stroke, file photo
However, while the clean living advice may seem familiar it is not easy to follow. Fewer than one in five of the women studied ticked all five boxes.
Swedish researcher Susanna Larsson said: ‘Because the consequences of stroke are usually devastating and irreversible, prevention is of great importance.
‘These results are exciting because they indicate that a healthy diet and lifestyle can substantially reduce the risk of stroke, and these are lifestyle choices that people can make or improve.’
At least one Briton has a stroke every five minutes – and one in five will be killed, making stroke the fourth largest cause of death, after cancer, heart and respiratory disease.
With more than half of survivors left so disabled that they are dependent on others, stroke is the main cause of severe disability in Britain.
For the study, almost 32,000 Swedish women with an average age of 60, were grilled about their diet and lifestyle to find out how many of the five healthy living steps they were following.
A healthy diet was defined as eating lots of fruit and vegetables, whole grains and fish.
To be deemed physically active, they had to walk or cycle for at least 40 minutes a day and do other more strenuous exercise for at least an hour a week.
Researchers in Sweden questioned women in their 60s about their various lifestyle choices
To get the third tick, they should never have smoked. Drinking in moderation was defined as no more 13 units of alcohol a week – roughly six 175ml glasses of wine.
To tick the fifth box they had to of a healthy weight.
Most of the women only satisfied two or three of the criteria. More than 1,500 ticked none of the boxes – and fewer than 600 were following all five steps, the journal Neurology reports.
Ten years later, 1,554 of the women had suffered a stroke.
However, their risk went down with each healthy living box ticked.
Overall, those who followed all five steps were 54 per cent less likely to have had a stroke than those who were least healthy.
However, their risk of ischaemic strokes, which account for up to 85 per cent of strokes, was cut by almost two-thirds.
Dr Larsson, of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, said each of the five steps help keep blood pressure in check – a key factor in preventing strokes.