THURSDAY, Oct. 25, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Genetic and lifestyle factors are independently associated with incident stroke among men and women aged 40 to 73 years, according to a study published online Oct. 24 in the BMJ.

Loes C.A. Rutten-Jacobs, Ph.D., from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, and colleagues recruited 306,473 men and women aged 40 to 73 years between 2006 and 2010 to examine the correlation of a polygenic risk score and healthy lifestyle with incident stroke. A polygenic risk score of 90 single-nucleotide polymorphisms previously associated with stroke was constructed. In addition, adherence to a healthy lifestyle was determined based on not smoking, a healthy diet, body mass index <30 kg/m², and regular physical exercise.

The researchers identified 2,077 incident strokes during a median follow-up of 7.1 years. Individuals with high genetic risk (top third of the polygenic score) versus those at low genetic risk (bottom third) had a significantly higher risk for incident stroke (hazard ratio, 1.35). Compared with a favorable lifestyle (three or four healthy lifestyle factors), unfavorable lifestyle (zero or one healthy lifestyle factors) was correlated with a significantly increased risk for stroke (hazard ratio, 1.66). The correlation with lifestyle was independent of genetic risk.

“These findings highlight the potential of lifestyle interventions to reduce risk of stroke across entire populations, even in those at high genetic risk of stroke,” the authors write.

One author disclosed ties to AstraZeneca.

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