Background: Stroke is a major cause of illness, death, and health expenditures. Leisure-time physical activity may reduce the risk for stroke.
Objective: To examine the association of leisure-time physical activity and pulmonary function with risk for stroke.
Design: Prospective cohort study.
Setting: Reykjavík, Iceland.
Participants: 4484 men 45 to 80 years of age followed for a mean (+/-SD) of 10.6 +/- 3.6 years.
Measurements: Patients underwent physical examination, blood sampling, and spirometry and completed a questionnaire about health and exercise. Computerized hospital records were used to identify strokes, and the Icelandic National Registry was used to identify deaths.
Results: New stroke developed in 249 men (5.6%) (hemorrhagic stroke in 44 [18%] and ischemic stroke in 205 [82%]). In a multivariable hazard analysis that controlled for known risk factors for cerebrovascular disease, leisure-time physical activity maintained after 40 years of age was associated with a reduced risk for stroke (relative risk, 0.69 [CI, 0.47 to 1.01] for total stroke and 0.62 [CI, 0.40 to 0.97] for ischemic stroke). Risk for stroke increased with diminished ventilatory function (FVC or FEV1) (relative risk, 1.9 [CI, 1.06 to 3.25] for the lowest compared with the highest quintile).
Conclusion: Middle-aged men who participate in leisure-time physical activity and have good pulmonary function seem to have a lower risk for stroke than men who are not active or have diminished pulmonary function.