Healthy Lifestyle and Functional Outcomes from Stroke in Women

Am J Med. 2016 Jul;129(7):715-724.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2016.02.002. Epub 2016 Feb 18.


Purpose: While a healthy lifestyle has been associated with reduced risk of developing ischemic stroke, less is known about its effect on stroke severity.

Methods: We performed a prospective cohort study among 37,634 women without stroke or missing risk factor data at baseline. The healthy lifestyle index was composed of smoking, physical activity, body mass index, alcohol consumption, and diet (range 0-20, with 20 representing healthiest lifestyle). Possible functional outcomes were no stroke or stroke with modified Rankin Scale score of 0-1 (mild), 2-3 (moderate), or 4-6 (severe). Multinomial logistic regression was used to analyze the association between healthy lifestyle and functional outcomes from stroke.

Results: Over 17.2 years of follow-up, 867 total strokes were confirmed. Compared with the lowest category (0-4), the highest category (17-20) was associated with reductions in risk of total stroke with mild (odds ratio [OR] 0.43; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.20-0.90), moderate (OR 0.53; 95% CI, 0.27-1.06), and severe (OR 0.48; 95% CI, 0.20-1.18) functional outcomes. Even a modest healthy lifestyle index (5-8 points) was associated with significant decreases in total stroke with severe and moderate functional outcomes. Similar results were seen for ischemic but not hemorrhagic strokes.

Conclusions: Highest vs lowest scores on the healthy lifestyle index were associated with reductions in risk of total and ischemic strokes with mild, moderate, and severe functional outcomes among women. The evidence that even modest healthy lifestyle index scores reduced risks of total and ischemic stroke with moderate and severe functional outcomes suggests modest lifestyle changes may reduce risk of disabling stroke events.

Keywords: Epidemiology; Lifestyle; Stroke outcomes.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Brain Ischemia / epidemiology*
  • Brain Ischemia / physiopathology
  • Diet, Healthy*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Healthy Lifestyle
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Hemorrhages / epidemiology*
  • Intracranial Hemorrhages / physiopathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Protective Factors
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Stroke / epidemiology*
  • Stroke / physiopathology