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Pre-stroke physical activity lowers mortality risk- study

The researchers investigated the association between physical activity and outcomes after stroke



Pre-stroke physical activity lowers morality risk following both haemorrhagic and ischaemic stroke, a study has shown. 

The study involved participants with intracerebral haemorrhage and ischaemic stroke and showed that those with increased pre-stroke physical activity had less severe stroke symptoms at hospital admission, regardless of other risk factors.

Among 763 patients with intracerebral haemorrhage and 4225 with ischaemic stroke, pre-stroke physical activity was found to be the strongest predictor of stroke severity for intracerebral hemorrhages.

“Based on current knowledge, health care professionals should promote physical activity as part of primary stroke prevention,” lead investigator, Adam Viktorisson from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, concluded.

In the study, 88.5 per cent of those with intracerebral haemorrhage performed light physical activity for at least four hours a week, and 11.5 per cent performed moderate physical activity for at least two hours a week the year before stroke.

On the other hand, 86.8 per cent of the ischaemic stroke group performed light physical activity and 13.2 per cent moderate activity.

During a median follow-up of four years, pre-stroke physical activity was associated with a 70 per cent lower short-term mortality risk after intracerebral haemorrhage and a 78 per cent lower mortality risk after ischaemic stroke.

“Physical activity is considered a safe intervention and can serve as a counterpart to polypharmacy in elderly and cerebrovascular at-risk populations,” Viktorisson explains.

“The results of this study strengthen the notion that a pre-stroke habit of physical activity may protect the brain in cases of intracerebral haemorrhage, and provide new incentives to explore related mechanisms.

“Future research, with prospectively collected data on physical activity is needed to confirm the results of the current study.”

Pre-stroke physical activity was also associated with a 60 per cent lower risk of long-term mortality after intracerebral haemorrhage and a 51 per cent lower risk after ischaemic stroke.

A separate meta-analysis of 23 studies found that moderate and high levels of activity were associated with a reduced risk of total stroke.

High and moderate physical activity was found to lower the risk of stroke incidence or mortality by 25 per cent and 17 per cent respectively, confirming that both occupational and leisure time physical activities could be beneficial in lowering the risk of stroke.