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Global Study: 9 Out of 10 Strokes Are Preventable

Jul 18, 2016 06:24 AM EDT

Stroke can be prevented if people promptly address these risk factors, a study suggested.

According to health experts, stroke is a leading cause of death and disability, particularly in low-income and middle-income groups.

But a new study showed that 10 risk factors responsible for 90 percent of strokes worldwide could be modified. As these risk factors are properly addressed, cases of stroke could be reduced significantly.

"We have confirmed the ten modifiable risk factors associated with 90% of stroke cases in all regions, young and older and in men and women," Dr. Martin O'Donnell, principal investigator for the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) at McMaster University and study author, said in a news release.

"The study also confirms that hypertension is the most important modifiable risk factor in all regions, and the key target in reducing the burden of stroke globally."

According to the study, stroke cases will be reduced by 48% if hypertension is eliminated.

Other risk factors include lack of physical activity (36%), poor diet (19%), smoking (12%), cardiac causes (9%), diabetes (4%), alcohol consumption (6%), stress (6%) and high cholesterol (27%).

However, according to the researchers, the risk factors vary by region. For instance, hypertension risks are 40 percent more critical in Western Europe and North America, and 60 percent in Australia and Southeast Asia.

Alcohol risks are lowest in Western Europe, North America and Australia, but highest in Africa and South Asia.

The risks of lack of physical activity, however, has more impact in China, researchers said.

"Our findings will inform the development of global population-level interventions to reduce stroke, and how such programs may be tailored to individual regions," Dr. Salim Yusuf, a professor of medicine at McMaster's Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and co-author of the study, said in a statement.

"This includes better health education, more affordable healthy food, avoidance of tobacco and more affordable medication for hypertension and dyslipidaemia."

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