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Researchers involved in the Interstroke study, involving 22 countries, found that ten leading risk factors may account for 90 percent of risk of stroke.

Comparing the lifestyle of 3,000 stroke patients with a matched group of 3,000 healthy counterparts (serving as the control group), Martin J. O’Donnell, from McMaster University (Ontario, Canada), and colleagues observed that high blood pressure, smoking, a fat stomach, poor diet and lack of exercise accounted for 80 percent of stroke cases. Five additional factors of diabetes, excess alcohol, stress and depression, heart disorders and the presence of apolipoproteins in the blood were found to account for 10 percent additional stroke cases. Noting that many of the risk factors coincide with those linked to heart attack risk, the team concludes: “Our findings suggest that ten risk factors are associated with 90 percent of the risk of stroke. Targeted interventions that reduce blood pressure and smoking, and promote physical activity and a healthy diet, could substantially reduce the burden of stroke.”


  1. Martin J O’Donnell, Denis Xavier, Lisheng Liu, Hongye Zhang, Siu Lim Chin, Purnima Rao-Melacini, et. al. “Risk factors for ischemic and intracerebral hemorrhagic stroke in 22 countries” (the INTERSTROKE study): a case-control study. The Lancet, June 18, 2010.