Improper lifestyle has a much greater impact on stroke risk than genes

Study shows: Lifestyle has a greater impact on stroke risk than genes

A recent study has shown that lifestyle has a greater impact on stroke risk than genes. According to the researchers, people who live healthy can somewhat compensate for genetic disadvantages. An unhealthy lifestyle and bad genes, on the other hand, add up.

One of the most common causes of death in Germany

According to health experts, around 270,000 people in Germany suffer a stroke every year. The so-called brain infarction is one of the most common causes of death in Germany. According to experts, the risk of stroke can be reduced by a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, physical activities, the avoidance of excess weight and normal cholesterol values ​​as well as the prevention of certain risk factors such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, atrial fibrillation and fat metabolism disorders. The great role that a healthy lifestyle plays in stroke prevention has also been shown in a recently published study.

Which affects the risk of stroke

As the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Neurologie e.V. writes in a statement, the risk of suffering a stroke is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors such as nutrition and lifestyle.

But which weighs more? According to the results of an international team of scientists, the wrong genes increase the risk of stroke by one third, the wrong lifestyle by two thirds - both factors work independently of each other.

So if you live healthy, you can compensate for genetic disadvantages.

"The results show that a healthy lifestyle is worthwhile for stroke prevention - regardless of the genetic risk profile," explained Prof. Dr. med. Martin Dichgans, 2nd Chairman of the German Stroke Society (DSG), who was involved in the study from the German side.

The study results of the German-British research team led by Dr. Loes Rutten-Jacobs from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) in Bonn was published in the "British Medical Journal".

Gene profiles and lifestyle analyzed

According to the information, the researchers based their studies on the MEGASTROKE analysis, which identified genetic stroke risk factors in 520,000 white Europeans using genome-wide association studies.

In it, 90 gene variants associated with stroke were discovered. On this basis, the scientists around Dr. Rutten-Jacobs applied a risk score and applied it to the UK prospective biobank cohort study.

The UK Biobank contains the biological information of 500,000 Britons between the ages of 40 and 69: gene profiles as well as detailed information on nutrition and lifestyle.

Based on their genetic risk score, those biobank participants who had never had a stroke or a heart attack were divided into three groups: those with high, medium and low genetic stroke risk.

The researchers also grouped people according to the guidelines of the American Heart Association (AHA) into categories with a healthy, moderately healthy, and unhealthy lifestyle.

According to the AHA, people live healthy if they do not smoke, are not too fat (BMI under 30), eat a healthy diet with lots of fruit, vegetables and fish and do moderate physical activity for at least three hours or one and a half hours a week.

Smoking and being overweight increase the risk of stroke by 66 percent

A total of 2,077 of the 306,473 participants suffered a first stroke in the course of seven years, according to the researchers from hospital and death registers.

The risk of stroke was 35 percent higher for people with high genetic risk than for those with low genetic risk, regardless of lifestyle. With moderate genetic risk, the rate was increased by 20 percent.

The association with lifestyle was clearer: participants with an unhealthy lifestyle suffered a stroke 66 percent more often than healthy people, regardless of their genetic risk.

Those who lived moderately healthy had a 27 percent higher stroke rate.

Bad genes and unhealthy lifestyle add up

So bad genes and an unhealthy lifestyle independently increase the risk of stroke and add up, as the scientists were able to show.

In people with unfavorable genes and at the same time unhealthy lifestyle, they found an approximately 130 percent higher stroke rate compared to people with low genetic risk and a healthy lifestyle.

Smoking and an increased BMI contributed most to the lifestyle-related risk of stroke. Both genes and lifestyle factors had a greater impact on men than on women.

“The results show that a healthy lifestyle for stroke prevention is worthwhile - regardless of the genetic risk profile. Men should pay particular attention to a healthy lifestyle, ”said Prof. Martin Dichgans, whose institute for stroke and dementia research (ISD) at the University of Munich clinic was involved in the study from the German side. (ad)

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