Healthy habits in middle age may reduce women’s stroke risk

Adopting a healthy lifestyle in middle age may significantly reduce the risk of stroke in women, according to new research from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The study analyzed data from nearly 60,000 women who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study over the course of 26 years. The researchers found that women who were practicing three healthy behaviors at middle age — not smoking, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight — reduced the risk of any type of stroke by 25% and ischemic stroke risk by 36%. The study also found that eating a healthy diet was linked with a 23% lower risk of stroke.

Women are more likely than men to die from stroke and those who survive tend to have significantly poorer health outcomes. Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death among U.S. women, killing twice as many women as breast cancer.

“We found that changing to a healthy lifestyle, even in your 50s, still has the potential to prevent strokes,” said lead researcher Goodarz Danaei, Bernard Lown Associate Professor of Cardiovascular Health, in an April 9, 2020 article.

Read the article: Lifestyle changes in middle age lower future stroke risk

Read a MinnPost article: Healthy lifestyle behaviors at midlife linked to lower risk of stroke in women

Read a Runner’s World article: Making These Lifestyle Changes at Any Age Can Reduce Your Risk of Stroke