Lifestyle factors and risk of stroke in Seoul, south Korea

J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis. 1998 Nov-Dec;7(6):414-20. doi: 10.1016/s1052-3057(98)80125-0.


Background and purpose: The importance of stroke risk factors, especially lifestyle associated ones, may differ among different ethnic groups. The purpose of the present study is to elucidate the risk factors for stroke in Seoul, Korea.

Subjects and methods: Three-hundred four stroke patients and 249 age-matched controls were studied. Patients were divided into those with cerebral infarction (CI) and intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH). Using a structured interview, we assessed risk factors for stroke including lifestyle-associated factors: hypertension (HT); diabetes mellitus (DM); cigarette smoking; alcohol drinking; sodium intake; salt taste preference; physical activity and exercise; consumption of vegetables, fat, fish and fruits; body mass index; total body fat; and skinfold thickness of triceps, subscapular, and abdomen. The results were compared between patients and controls, and between CI and ICH.

Results: There were 232 CI and 72 ICH. Multivariate logistic regression analyses revealed the following independent risk factors; for CI in men, HT, DM, high sodium intake, low intake of vegetables, and excessive abdominal skinfold thickness; for ICH in men, HT, heavy alcohol drinking, high sodium intake, excessive abdominal skinfold thickness, and low fat consumption; for CI in women, excessive abdominal skinfold thickness, and low fat consumption; for CI in women, HT, high sodium intake, excessive abdominal skinfold thickness, decreased triceps skinfold thickness, and lack of recent physical exercise. On subgroup comparison, DM was found to be a discriminant risk factor favoring CI (v ICH) in women.

Conclusion: Our results showed that in Seoul, Korea, HT is the strongest risk factor for CI and ICH, and high sodium intake, lack of exercise, and central body fat deposition are relatively important factors related to stroke, whereas factors such as cigarette smoking, hypercholesterolemia, and body mass index are not. Low consumption of fat and heavy alcohol drinking appear to be related to the occurrence of ICH. Risk factors for stroke may differ among different ethnic groups and guidelines for stroke prevention should be based on a correct understanding of them.