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Lifetime stroke risk higher for women, those with high blood pressure

SAN DIEGO, Feb. 6 Women aged 55 and older have a one in five chance of suffering a stroke during their lifetime, while men the same age have a one in six chance, according to data from the Framingham Heart Study presented today at the American Stroke Association's 29th International Stroke Conference.

"The lifetime risk of stroke has not been previously reported in the U.S. population," said study lead author Sudha Seshadri, M.D., assistant professor of neurology at the Boston University School of Medicine. "This data estimates categories defined by age, sex and baseline blood pressure, and may identify risk factors that may motivate adults to adopt a healthier lifestyle."

Researchers studied 4,883 participants from the original Framingham Heart Study who survived stroke-free to age 55. The participants were followed at two-year intervals for up to 40 years or until they had a first stroke, developed Alzheimer's disease or died. Data from a total of 114,300 person-years was collected.

Among the participants, 859 participants developed a stroke, 86 percent of which were ischemic (caused by blood clots that cut off blood supply to the brain).

Researchers calculated stroke risk at ages 55, 65, 75 and 85.

"In women the lifetime stroke risk was 21 percent at age 55, while in men it was 17 percent at age 55. This risk was roughly the same at ages 65 and 75," she said. But risk declined slightly to 9 percent for men and 16 percent for women at age 85, which reflects the "decrease in life expectancy in this oldest group."

The relationship between blood pressure and stroke risk was also striking: At every age the risk of stroke was higher for those who had higher blood pressure at age 55. "This is an important message that underlines the importance of lifetime control of blood pressure," she said.

"People who had stage one hypertension, which is defined as a systolic blood pressure of 140 mmHg or higher or a diastolic blood
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Contact: Carole Bullock
carole.bullock@heart.org
214-706-1279
American Heart Association
6-Feb-2004


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