An analysis of data published recently in the journal Stroke found that certain lifestyle changes, even later in life, were associated with lower risk of stroke. Nearly 60,000 women, who were an average of 52 years old at the start of the study, were followed for 26 years. Quitting smoking, being physically active for 30 minutes or more daily, and losing weight was associated with a 25 percent lower overall stroke risk and a 36 percent lower risk of ischemic stroke (the most common type, in which blood flow to the brain is blocked). Consuming more fish, nuts, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables, and less processed meats and alcohol was associated with 23 percent lower overall stroke risk.
Women are more likely to have a stroke than men, and they are also more likely to die or suffer permanent disability after a stroke. This observational study suggests women who improve their lifestyle choices—even after 50—may reduce their risk of having a stroke.