Strokes are one of the leading causes of disability and death, but the vast majority could be prevented, according to a new large study. Experts from McMaster University in Canada have teamed up with researchers from 32 countries to record the leading causes of stroke on all continents, in different generations and in both sexes.

Analyzing a total of 13,447 people who suffered an acute stroke and 13,472 healthy peers, they concluded that more than 90% of strokes alone are not inevitable as they are due to 10 factors that could have been prevented with the necessary adjustments. lifestyle.

The most important of these factors is hypertension, they write in the medical review “The Lancet”, estimating that if it did not exist, the risk of stroke in both sexes would be reduced by 48%. “This finding confirms that hypertension is the most important, modifiable risk factor in all parts of the world and that it should be the primary goal of global stroke prevention programs,” said lead researcher Dr. Martin O’Donnell, Associate Professor McMaster Public Health Research.

According to the researchers, they looked at the percentage of strokes caused by each risk factor individually and calculated how many episodes would be prevented if this factor was eliminated, while they also examined the combined effect of the 10 factors to arrive at safer conclusions.

They calculated that if sedentary lifestyle were eliminated, strokes would be reduced by 36%, if there were no dyslipidemias (eg increased cholesterol and triglycerides) they would be reduced by 27% and if there was no poor diet they would be reduced by 23%. Respectively, if there was no obesity the strokes would be reduced by 19%, if there was no smoking by 12%, if there were no heart problems (mainly atrial fibrillation) by 9% and if there was no stress they would be reduced by 6%.

In addition, eliminating alcohol abuse would reduce them by 6% and eliminating diabetes by 4%. Overall, hypertension and the other nine factors account for 90.7% of the general population at risk of having a stroke (91.5% of the risk of ischemic stroke and 87.1% of the risk of hemorrhagic stroke) – and this applies to all continents, age groups and both sexes.

Of course, from region to region there is a small variation (the percentage of total risk ranges from 82.7% in Africa to 97.4% in Southeast Asia) but this is not huge. The impact of the factors individually is greater, which reflects the differences in lifestyle. In Western Europe, Australia and North America, for example, hypertension is responsible for 39% of strokes but in Southeast Asia for 60%. Respectively, the risk from alcohol was lower in Western Europe, Australia and North America, but higher in Africa and South Asia.

However, 10 factors cause 92.2% of strokes under the age of 55 and 90% over the age of 55, suggesting that nine out of ten strokes can be prevented if we do this. that should, the researchers stressed.