It’s a disease that is more prevalent among people on low incomes, and its lethal rate varies around the world—but there are many common factors that can all but wipe it out everywhere, say researchers from McMaster University.
The rate could be cut in half just by getting blood pressure under control. A third of cases would disappear if people started regular exercise, and a healthier diet would reduce it further by 20 per cent. Smoking and drinking had less of an impact—being responsible for 12 per cent and 6 per cent of cases respectively—and stress was reckoned as the cause of 6 per cent of cases and diabetes for 4 per cent.
There’s overlap between several of these causes, and the risks vary between regions. Hypertension (high blood pressure) was responsible for 40 per cent of stroke cases in the West, and up to 60 per cent in South-East Asia, and excessive drinking was more of a problem in Africa and South Asia—but combined they are responsible for 91 per cent of cases, the researchers reckon.