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Being fit in middle age can ward off stroke later in life: study

fit in middle age

If you needed another reason to hit the gym today, researchers from Texas are delivering an important one; That being fit in middle age can ward off stroke later in life.

After studying nearly 20,000 people, a study conducted at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas found that those who were fit in their mid-forties had much less of a chance of having a stroke after the age of 65.

How much less? Try a whopping 37 per cent.

The researchers concluded that the link between being fit in middle age, cardiorespiratory fitness and lower stroke risk was a strong one, even independent of risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure or atrial fibrillation.

The study, published June 9 in the medical journal Stroke, followed 19815 people who received Medicare coverage between 1999 and 2000 and observed 808 stroke hospitalizations. It found that higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness in mid-life meant fewer strokes later on.

“Incorporating exercise and regular physical activity in one’s day-to-day routine is important to improve fitness and lower risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases in older age,” said lead researcher Dr. Ambarish Pandey.

The study, published June 9 in the medical journal Stroke, followed 19815 people who received Medicare coverage between 1999 and 2000 and observed 808 stroke hospitalizations. It found that higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness in mid-life meant fewer strokes later on, and the more fit the subject was the lower their their risk became. For example, male subjects at the bottom end of fitness testing had a 9.4 per cent chance of stroke. This fell to 6.8 for those in the middle and to just 5.2 for those at the top of the fitness testing.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation says more than 46,500 Canadians were hospitalized for stroke in 2011, and that more than 400,000 are living with long term stroke disability. The organization says that more than eight of ten cases of premature heart disease or stroke can be prevented by adopting healthy behaviours such as keeping a healthy weight, quitting smoking, eating more fruits and vegetables and exercising more often, and more vigorously.

We know that the age of stroke is dropping, where more younger people are starting to experience stroke, and people with stroke have a much higher risk of developing dementia. That’s scary.

If possible the news about the ramifications about strokes grew worse this week. A report issued this week by the Heart and Stroke Foundation found that those who have had a stroke have more than twice the risk of developing dementia.

“We know that the age of stroke is dropping, where more younger people are starting to experience stroke, and people with stroke have a much higher risk of developing dementia. That’s scary.” says the organization’s Patrice Lindsay. “We didn’t appreciate the magnitude of that until we really started putting all the research and numbers together. There are lots of scientific papers talking about it, but this is the first time it’s come to light, having really quantifiable numbers for Canadians.”

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About The Author /

Cantech Letter founder and editor Nick Waddell has lived in five Canadian provinces and is proud of his country's often overlooked contributions to the world of science and technology. Waddell takes a regular shift on the Canadian media circuit, making appearances on CTV, CBC and BNN, and contributing to publications such as Canadian Business and Business Insider.

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