Lifestyle changes more effective in lowering stroke risk, study finds

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A study conducted by Monash University has revealed that lifestyle changes and medication are more effective in reducing the risk of stroke associated with advanced carotid artery stenosis than invasive procedures.

Carotid artery stenosis, a condition resulting from the buildup of fatty deposits in the main artery delivering blood to the brain, is a leading cause of stroke.

The study, which analyzed over four decades of data, found that surgery and stents had limited, if any, impact on preventing stroke.

In contrast, combining lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, and smoking cessation with appropriate medication significantly reduced stroke risk in symptom-free patients with advanced carotid stenosis.

The risk fell by at least 65%, resulting in a stroke rate of 1% or less, similar to or lower than patients who underwent surgical interventions.

According to Associate Professor Anne Abbott, the study’s author, the findings challenge the misconception that surgery or stenting is the best treatment for carotid artery stenosis, emphasizing that these procedures often cause more harm than good.

She stressed the importance of healthy habits and appropriate medication in mitigating risk factors like high blood pressure and cholesterol and effectively reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack.

The study calls for a shift towards non-invasive interventions combined with lifestyle changes and medication, as they offer better outcomes for patients, have lower complication rates, and are cost-effective.

Professor Abbott encourages healthcare providers to prioritize best practice non-invasive interventions to improve patient care and reduce the unnecessary use of invasive procedures.

If you care about stroke, please read studies about how to eat to prevent stroke, and diets high in flavonoids could help reduce stroke risk.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about how Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health, and wild blueberries can benefit your heart and brain.

The research findings can be found in Frontiers in Neurology.

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