By Mark Waghorn via SWNS
Seven healthy habits can almost halve people's risk of suffering a life-threatening stroke, according to new research.
They include being active, eating better, losing weight, quitting smoking and maintaining normal blood pressure.
The others are controlling cholesterol and reducing blood sugar. They have been dubbed 'Life's Simple 7' - and also protect against heart disease and Alzheimer's.
Lead author Professor Myriam Fornage, of Texas University in Houston, said: "Our study confirmed modifying lifestyle risk factors, such as controlling blood pressure, can offset a genetic risk of stroke."
Cardiovascular diseases - which include stroke - are the world's biggest cause of death globally.
The AHA (American Heart Association) put together the checklist of factors for optimal heart health.
Prof Fornage and colleagues tracked around 11,500 people in the US aged 45 to 64 for an average of 28 years.
Participants were given a 'stroke polygenic risk score' - based on blood tests that identified mutations linked to the condition.
Those who scored highest and had the worst cardiovascular health had the highest lifetime risk of 25 percent.
But for those who had practiced Life's Simple 7, it fell by 30 to 45 percent - regardless of their level of genetic risk. It added up to nearly six more years of stroke-free life.
Overall, the fewest cases occurred in this group (6%) while most were in peers with low adherence (57%).
The findings in the Journal of the American Heart Association offer hope for a screening program.
Prof Fornage said: "We can use genetic information to determine who is at higher risk and encourage them to adopt a healthy cardiovascular lifestyle, such as following the AHA’s Life’s Simple 7, to lower that risk and live a longer, healthier life."
Strokes happen when a vessel is either blocked or bursts - cutting off blood supply to parts of the brain.
Almost 800,000 people in the US are struck down each year - 137,000 of whom die. Equal to a stroke every 40 seconds - and a death every three-and-a-half minutes.
Stroke reduces mobility in more than half of survivors aged 65 and older. It also occurs in younger adults. Almost four-in-ten hospitalized patients are under 65.
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