Friday, July 9, 2010

A recently reported study of more than 3,000 people identified 9 modifiable risk factors for reducing more than 90% of all strokes. None of these will come as any big surprise. It’s been known for years that high blood pressure is associated with a higher incidence of brain hemorrhage (intracerebral hematoma) that results in either death of long-term injury. This relationship has been reaffirmed. This finding was based on the definition of hypertension as a systolic blood pressure greater than 150 mm Hg instead of the newer parameter of > 120 mm Hg.

A second, not surprising factor contributing to stroke, is smoking. For years it has been known that smoking increases the risk of both cardiac and stroke disease, mainly because it is associated with increased vascular problems. Diabetes is another factor that leads to vascular problem and stroke.

Two additional factors are obesity (as measured by abdominal girth) and regular exercise. These two have an obvious relationship with each other in that exercise helps maintain weight reduction in most people. Regardless of their interrelationship, they independently factored into the risk of stroke. Excessive alcohol consumption was also identified as a contributing factor.

So, your mother was right when she warned you to eat right, exercise, don’t smoke, and don’t drink excessively. The difference is that we probably didn’t believe our mothers. Now evidence based medicine shows she was correct.

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