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Elderly stroke risk reduced by moderate activities

Media release

A Curtin University of Technology study has found that regular moderate activity such as housework, gardening, or walking, can reduce the risk of ischemic stroke in the elderly. Ischemic stroke is caused by blockage of arteries leading to or in the brain.

The study, conducted by Curtin’s School of Public Health, collected information on occupational and leisure time activity levels of elderly ischemic stroke patients in Southern China.

Over 800 participants aged 50-75 years were asked to report the number of hours engaged in different levels of physical activity per week during the past year. The findings were published this month in the leading medical journal Cerebrovascular Diseases.

Ischemic stroke is the most common form of stroke in the world accounting for more than 70 per cent of all stroke cases in Western countries and 60 per cent in China.

Curtin’s Professor Andy Lee, a lead researcher on the study, explained that the findings are significant for the elderly who are at risk of stroke.

“As older adults are less likely and sometimes unable to engage in vigorous activity, our findings show they can still benefit from participating regularly in moderate activities,” he said.

“The elderly need to commit to some level of moderate activity in their daily lives, and our study has shown that the more they engage in these activities and the longer they spend participating will go a long way to help reducing their risk of stroke.”

Even though the study was conducted in Southern China, Professor Lee also highlighted that these findings can translate to Australia and echo current general guidelines on lifestyle changes to prevent stroke.

“We are really pleased to see that the findings of our study support what the general medical and health communities have been advocating to reduce the risk of stroke,” he said.

“With stroke contributing to 10 per cent of total deaths globally and the incidence of stroke likely to increase over the next 20 years for our ageing population, these findings should be taken seriously.

“Older adults should know that it doesn’t take much physical effort to give themselves a better chance at preventing a stroke and more should be done to promote and encourage them to take on regular exercises and moderate activities.”

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