New Delhi: : Contrary to the notion that strokes can strike anyone anytime and are the leading cause of death and disability, a claim made in a study by a team of researchers says that nine out of 10 are actually preventable.
The study led by Dr Martin O'Donnell and Prof Salim Yusuf of the McMaster University, along with collaborators from 32 countries, builds on preliminary findings from the first phase of the INTERSTROKE study, which identified ten modifiable risk factors for stroke in 6000 participants from 22 countries.
The study was done in order to find the main causes of stroke in diverse populations, young and old, men and women and within subtypes of stroke.
The co-leader of the study Dr. Martin O'Donnell said , "This study is of an adequate size and scope to explore stroke risk factors in all major regions of the world, within key populations and within stroke subtypes. The wider reach confirms the ten modifiable risk factors associated with 90 percent of stroke cases in all regions, young and older and in men and women. The study confirms that hypertension is the most important modifiable risk factor in all regions, and the key target in reducing the burden of stroke globally."
From their research, they discovered that there are 10 controllable risk factors that account for 90 percent of all strokes worldwide, with high blood pressure (hypertension) leading the pack.
The researchers looked at the proportion of strokes caused by various risk factors and determined the percentage of strokes that would be eliminated if that particular risk factor was eliminated.
For example, the findings showed that, by eliminating high blood pressure — the leading risk factor — the chances of a stroke dropped by nearly 48 percent.
As for the the other risk factors — physical inactivity, lipids, poor diet, obesity, smoking, cardiac causes, alcohol use, stress and diabetes — findings showed that the chances for a stroke would drop by 48, 27, 23, 19, 12, nine, six, six and four percent, respectively.
What made these findings so notable is that many of these risk factors are associated with one another. For example, someone who is struggling with diabetes or cardiac issues might also be obese. Similarly, a common way for people to deal with their stress is to drink alcohol. In all cases, these relations result in the same phenomena: the risk factors compound and can increase the chance of a stroke.
Even with these findings, however, the study authors noted that the importance of various risk factors varies in different regions.
The study's other lead researcher, Prof Salim Yusuf, of McMaster University, said that the findings show ‘that the majority of stroke is due to common modifiable risk factors'.
"This is the first study that is adequately powered to explore stroke risk factors in all regions of the world and between stroke subtypes. It confirms the 10 modifiable risk factors associated with 90% of stroke cases and it also confirms that hypertension is the most important modifiable risk factor in all regions," he said.
The study was published in the journal, The Lancet.
(With Agency input)