Blood Pressure Certain lifestyle changes could greatly reduce your stroke risk, according to a new study.

Researchers calculated stroke risk among nearly 23,000 black and white Americans aged 45 and older. Their risk was assessed using the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 health factors: be active, control cholesterol, eat a healthy diet, manage blood pressure, maintain a healthy weight, control blood sugarand don’t smoke.

During five years of follow-up, 432 strokes occurred among the participants. All seven factors played an important role in predicting stroke risk, but blood pressure was the most important, according to the study, which was published June 6 in the journal Stroke.

“Compared to those with poor blood pressure status, those who were ideal had a 60 percent lower risk of future stroke,” study senior author Dr. Mary Cushman, a professor of medicine at the University of Vermont in Burlington, said in a journal news release.

Cushman and her colleagues also found that people who didn’t smoke or quit smoking more than a year before the start of the study had a 40 percent lower stroke risk.

For the study, the researchers categorized the participants’ Life’s Simple 7 scores as inadequate (zero to four points), average (five to nine points) or optimum (10 to 14 points).

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