Even if genetics put you at risk for a stroke, you can greatly lower your chances of experiencing one by maintaining a few healthy lifestyle choices. That’s the finding of a recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
People who have maintained good cardiovascular health “could potentially slash that risk [of stroke] by a significant amount,” says Myriam Fornage, an author on the paper and a professor at the Center for Human Genetics at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston.
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Specifically, the study looked at the effect of following Life’s Simple 7, the American Heart Association’s (AHA) prescription for heart health.
1. Stop smoking
2. Eat better
3. Get active
4. Lose weight
5. Manage blood pressure
6. Control cholesterol
(Note: The AHA recently updated this list, adding sleep as an eighth essential component of heart health.)
The study, published July 20, followed 11,568 people, starting when they were 45 years old (and free of stroke), for about 28 years. Just over half of the participants (56 percent) were women and just under a quarter (23 percent) were Black.
The researchers found that study participants with a genetic risk of stroke who did not follow the Life’s Simple 7 behaviors were most likely to experience a stroke.