Cambridge - People at high genetic risk of stroke can reduce their chance of stroke by adopting healthy lifestyle. This is reported by an international team of scientists in the British Medical Journal (2018; doi:).
The researchers working with Loes Rutten-Jacobs developed genetic risk score based on 90 gene variants that are known to cause strokes of 306,473 white men and women in the UK Biobank - database of biological information from half million UK adults.
Participants in the observational study were between 40 and 73 years old and had no history of stroke or heart attack . Adhering to healthy lifestyle was based on 4 factors: no smoking, diet high in fruit, vegetables and fish, body mass index below 30 - i.e. not overweight or obese - and regular physical activity. The researchers evaluated hospital and death records to identify stroke events over an average of 7 years.
The risk of stroke was 35% higher in people at high genetic risk than in those at low genetic risk, regardless of lifestyle. However, an unfavorable lifestyle was associated with 66% increased risk of stroke compared to favorable lifestyle, and this increased risk was present within each genetic risk category.
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A high genetic risk in combination with an unfavorable lifestyle profile was with more than 2-fold increased risk of stroke compared to low genetic risk and favorable lifestyle.
"These results illustrate the benefits of healthy lifestyle, regardless of the genetic risk," say the researchers. When it comes to lifestyle, smoking and obesity are the most important factors, according to the scientists.