Lifestyle modification for stroke prevention: facts and fiction
Purpose of review: The purpose is to summarize recent evidence on lifestyle modifications and first or recurrent stroke risk. Recent findings: Weight reduction, low-risk diet, regular physical activity, smoking cessation, and low-to-moderate alcohol consumption may reduce stroke risk up to 50% or more, but level one evidence is still lacking for several interventions. Appropriate food ingredients can significantly decrease stroke risk as recently confirmed for Mediterranean diet. The optimal intensity and amount of physical exercise is still not well established before and after stroke, although modest levels of activity already show benefits. Passive smoking represents an important health hazard. The impact of tobacco withdrawal using e-cigarette is currently uncertain. Alcohol and stroke risk relation is probably J-shaped for ischaemic stroke and linear for intracranial haemorrhage. Coffee consumption is J-shaped for overall stroke. Several interventions have failed to show significant effects, including regular intake of ‘healthy’ forms of fatty acids, various vitamin supplements, and other antioxidants. Both individualized and public educational programmes are likely needed on a repetitive basis to induce and maintain a healthy lifestyle before or after a stroke.
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