Research shows that a healthy lifestyle can offset a higher genetic risk for stroke

Washington: A new study has found that a good cardiovascular lifestyle can reduce the risk of stroke by 43% in people genetically predisposed to stroke.
led the research UTHhealth Houston And the findings were published in the journal American Heart Association.
The study included 11,568 adults aged 45 to 64 who were stroke-free at baseline and followed for a median of 28 years. Levels of cardiovascular health were based on the American Heart Association’s Simple 7 recommendations for life, which include stopping smoking, eating well, getting active, losing weight, controlling blood pressure, controlling cholesterol and lowering blood sugar. Lifetime risk of stroke was calculated as a stroke polygenic risk score, with people having more genetic risk factors with increased risk of stroke.
“Our study confirmed that changes in lifestyle risk factors, such as controlling blood pressure, can offset the genetic risk of stroke,” said. Miriam Fornage, PhD, senior author and professor of molecular medicine and human genetics in the Molecular Medicine Institute at UTHealth Houston. “We can use genetic information to determine who is at higher risk and encourage them to adopt a healthy cardiovascular lifestyle, such as the AHA’s Life’s Simple 7, to reduce that risk and live a longer, healthier life.” Fornage is the Lawrence and Johanna favorite distinguished Professor of Cardiology at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston.
Each year, 795,000 people in the US suffer a stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s every 40 seconds someone has a stroke and every 3.5 minutes someone dies from a stroke. Stroke is the leading cause of severe long-term disability with more than half of stroke survivors age 65 and older having reduced mobility. But strokes also occur in young adults—in 2014, 38% of people hospitalized for stroke were under the age of 65.
People in the study who scored highest for genetic risk of stroke and lowest for cardiovascular health had the highest lifetime risk of stroke at 25%. Regardless of the level of genetic risk of stroke, those who studied optimal cardiovascular health reduced that risk by 30% to 45%. That adds about six more years of stroke-free life.
Overall, those with low adherence to Life’s Simple 7 suffered the highest stroke incidence (56.8%) compared to 71 strokes (6.2%) among those with high adherence.
A limitation of the paper is that the polygenic risk score has not been widely validated, so its clinical utility is not optimal, particularly for people of different racial or ethnic backgrounds.


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