Regular exercise lowers the risk of having a stroke, new research suggests. Also, a number of risk factors for stroke have been identified, including smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and being inactive.
The researchers at the University of South Australia obtained data from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study. It is a large long-term study funded by the NIH National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) to look at the reasons behind the higher rates of stroke mortality among African-Americans and other residents living in the Southeastern United States.
Over 30,000 participants supplied their medical history over the phone. The researchers also visited them to obtain health measures such as body mass index and blood pressure. At the beginning of the study, the researchers asked participants how many times per week they exercised vigorously enough to work up a sweat.
The participants who were inactive were 20 percent more likely to experience a stroke or TIA than participants who exercised four or more times a week. The findings revealed that regular, moderately vigorous exercise, enough to break a sweat, was linked to reduced risk of stroke. Part of the protective effect was due to lower rates of known stroke risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity and smoking.
The study featured in the latest issue of the journal Stroke.
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