Midlife Fitness May Help Lower Stroke Risk Later In Life

The fitter you are in midlife, the more likely you are to ward off stroke after age 65, a new study has discovered.

New research in the American Heart Association (AHA) journal Stroke found that being more physically fit in one’s mid- to late-40s is linked to lower stroke risks past the said age, even after accounting for other risk factors.

“We all hear that exercise is good for you, but many people still don’t do it,” said study first author and cardiology fellow Dr. Ambarish Pandey.

Exercise Benefits Reaffirmed

The study covered over 19,800 adults ages 45 to 50, a huge part of which are male and Caucasian. The data from the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study was amassed from 1999 to 2009, measuring exercise capabilities through a treadmill test.

The researchers then measured the subjects’ heart and lung capacity or cardiorespiratory fitness, categorizing them afterward as having low, middle or high fitness level.

Individuals demonstrating the highest fitness level had a 37 percent decreased risk of having stroke past age 65. The results emerged independent of traditional stroke factors such as high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation and type 2 diabetes, supporting the earlier established role of exercise in preventing the debilitating condition.

Low fitness status is usually ignored as a risk factor in clinical practice, said Pandey, emphasizing its important role in preventing stroke, which remains the fifth leading mortality cause in the country and a leading reason behind long-term disability.

The team noted that their information on fitness’ impact on stroke risk is limited, making further studies necessary.

The AHA recommends at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, five days every week, for improved cardiovascular health.

Blacks And A Higher Chance Of Dying From Stroke

In a recent study, middle-aged black Americans exhibited a higher chance of dying from stoke than their white counterparts — not because they are discriminated in care, but because they maintain an elevated stroke rate.

The review of almost 30,000 people showed that blacks at age 45 have four times the death risk of whites, with the rates becoming the same once both black and white Americans turn 85 years old.

At $104,000, the lifelong cost of every stroke event is staggering, and the difference between blacks and whites can reach over $2.3 billion annually.

The researchers urged the government to boost stroke prevention and control initiatives, particularly in the case of risk factors more prevalent among blacks. These include hypertension and diabetes.

Previous studies found that consuming a Mediterranean diet may help one manage one’s stroke and heart attack risks. This diet is characterized by a high intake of vegetables and olive oil.

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