A new research warns that people who lead unhealthy lifestyles are at a significantly higher risk of suffering from stroke.
The British Medical Journal study found that lifestyle behaviors like smoking, no physical activity and eating less of fruits and vegetables could double the risk of stroke.
To reach the conclusion, British researchers examined the impact of four health behaviors (smoking, diet, physical activity, drinking) on stroke risk in a large group of men and women living in Norfolk.
The study involved 20,040 men and women aged 40-79 years old who were taking part in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer Study (EPIC). Between 1993 and 1997, participants completed a detailed health and lifestyle questionnaire and underwent a thorough health examination by trained nurses.
The volunteers scored one point for each of four healthy behaviors: current non-smoking, physically not inactive, moderate alcohol intake (1-14 units per week) and blood vitamin C levels of 50 µmol/l or more, 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.
Participants were then followed for an average of 11 and a half years. Strokes were recorded using death certificates and hospital discharge data.
There were a total of 599 incident strokes during the follow-up period. After adjusting for other 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.
A significantly higher percentage of women scored four compared to men.
The risk of stroke increased in linear fashion with every point decrease in health behavior score.