Scientists at the University of Vermont, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Emory University and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention looked at 7 factors known to affect stroke; these include body mass index, blood pressure, cigarette smoking, blood sugar, cholesterol, diet and physical activity. Many Americans are not doing so well in a lot of these categories, but don’t make positive changes. So the scientists tracked over 30,000 people to see how much improvement it takes to avert a stroke. They found that it doesn’t take a lot to make a positive difference. Each improvement of a point on a 14-point scale meant an 8% reduction in stroke. “The neat thing of this finding is that anything makes a difference,” says Daniel Lackland, a professor of neuroscience at the Medical University of South Carolina and a spokesman for the American Heart Association, which created the Life’s Simple Seven scale. Lackland says, “if you make a bigger change, you make a bigger improvement.”

Asked what he would pick first on the factor list, Lackland says he would single out blood pressure, because that shows the greatest risk reduction. “Every 20 millimeters of systolic that you lower from wherever you are, you lower your risk of stroke by 50%. That’s what this study is confirming.” He believes for many people, being consistent about taking blood pressure medication would do that…..    NPR Health Blog    6-6-13

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