Genetically at risk of stroke? A healthy lifestyle can help

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Researchers investigated how cardiovascular health interacts with a high genetic risk for stroke.

They found that optimal cardiovascular health reduces the lifetime risk of stroke among those with a high genetic risk.

Basic lifestyle interventions, such as following a healthy diet, exercising, and not smoking cigarettes, partially offset this risk.

Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide and a major cause of disability and dementia. In the United States, adults aged 25 and over have a lifetime risk of stroke of around 24%.

Both genetic and environmental factors influence stroke risk. Managing cardiometabolic risk factors and promoting healthy lifestyle behavior are frontlineTrusted Source strategies for improving cardiovascular health and decreasing stroke risk.

Recent genome-wide association studiesTrusted Source have identified multiple risk variants for stroke and have enabledTrusted Source the development of genetic risk scores that predict stroke incidence.

It has been unclear whether improving cardiovascular health may offset the genetic risk for stroke.

Recently, however, researchers found that maintaining optimal cardiovascular health can partially offset a high genetic risk for stroke, reducing a person’s overall lifetime stroke risk.

The study appears in the Journal of the American Heart AssociationTrusted Source.

“The public message is clear,” Dr. Tatjana Rundek, professor of neurology and public health sciences at the University of Miami, not involved in the study, told Medical News Today.

“Regardless of the potential of harboring ‘bad’ genetic risk, improving cardiovascular health should be the most important priority for public health. Promoting ideal cardiovascular health should start at an early age, and many of us believe that we should start with a healthy diet and exercise at birth,” she noted.

Data analysis For the study, the researchers analyzed data from 11,568 middle-aged adults who were stroke-free at baseline, and followed them for an average of 28 years.

Their lifetime risk of stroke was estimated from levels of genetic risk based on a validated stroke polygenic risk score and levels of cardiovascular health according to the American Heart Association’s “Life’s Simple 7Trusted Source,” which are now revised and updated to “Life’s Essential 8Trusted Source.”

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