Walking reduces severe stroke risk
Physical activity could result in a less severe stroke, according to a new Swedish study. Even light physical activity such as walking 4 hours per week and moderate physical activity for 2-3 hours per week appear to have a beneficial impact.
Study author Katharina Stibrant Sunnerhagen (Professor of rehabilitation medicine at Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden) said, "It is remarkable that even light physical activity can have such a clear link to stroke outcomes."
The study included 925 patients (mean age 73 years) with first clinical stroke admitted to Sahlgrenska University Hospital in 2014-2016. Four out of five patients (79.8%) in the study had a mild form of stroke. After the stroke occurrence, the patients responded to how physically active they were prior to the stroke. In some cases, relatives helped to provide this information.
The subjects who indicated that they were engaged in light physical activity (walking four hours or more a week) or moderate exercise (running, swimming or similar two to three hours a week) were more likely to have mild strokes rather than severe strokes. In the study, light and moderate physical activity were equally beneficial.
Although the study shows no causal relationship between exercise and protection against severe stroke, the link is still clear. Walking four hours a week results in half the risk of a stroke becoming severe compared to those who are physically inactive. The percentage of severe strokes for the two groups was 3% and 6%, respectively.
Other factors such as age, gender, diabetes, and smoking also appear to play a role. The study shows that when all known factors are considered, physical activity in combination with lower age accounts for approximately 7% of the association with stroke severity.
The study shows that even small amounts of light exercise is associated with reduction in stroke severity adding to the growing literature on the benefits of physical activity.
Reinholdsson M, et al. Prestroke physical activity could influence acute stroke severity. Neurology 2018;91:1-7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30232251
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