A study published in the online issue of Neurology indicates that women with a healthy diet and lifestyle may reduce the risk of a stroke by half. The study examined the following five factors that comprise a healthy lifestyle: healthy diet, physically active, healthy body mass index (BMI), not smoking, and moderate alcohol consumption. The results of the study show that compared with women with none of the five healthy factors, women with all five factors had a 54% lower risk of stroke.

For the study, 31,696 Swedish women with an average age of about 60 years completed a 350-item questionnaire about their diet and lifestyle, according to an American Academy of Neurology (AAN) news release. The women were then followed for an average of 10 years. A majority of the participants had two to three of the healthy factors, and only 589 women had all five healthy factors. A total of 1,535 had none. The risk of stroke steadily decreased with each additional healthy lifestyle factor.

There were 1,554 strokes among study participants. Women with a healthier diet were 13% less likely to have a cerebral infarction than those whose diet was not as healthy. The AAN news release notes that women with healthier diets had a rate of 28 strokes per 10,000 women per year compared to 43 strokes per 10,000 women per year among those with a less healthy diet.

There was reportedly no relationship between the healthy factors and the risk of hemorrhagic stroke.

Susanna C. Larsson, PhD, says, “Because the consequences of stroke are usually devastating and irreversible, prevention is of great importance. These results are exciting because they indicate that a healthy diet and lifestyle can substantially reduce the risk of stroke, and these are lifestyle choices that people can make or improve.”

Source: AAN