Explanation of your results.
The results that follow estimate your chances of suffering a stroke compared with other individuals your age. We have used 7 risk categories that should help put your overall risk in perspective. The categories are:
Very much below average risk
Much below average risk
Below average risk
Above average risk
Much above average risk
Very much above average risk
Stroke is a potentially debilitating or fatal condition that occurs when the blood supply to a portion of the brain is interrupted. As with a heart attack, the affected area typically dies and the function of that area is impaired. For this reason, strokes are often called 'brain attacks' The outcome can be anything from minimal impairment of thinking to paralysis, loss of speech and death.
Strokes are quite common in the US, with about 700,000 new cases per year. Nearly 7% of individuals over 65 have had at least one stroke, and it is the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer. So stroke is something to take very seriously.
Although strokes can be treated, often acutely and nearly always after the fact with rehabilitation, in many cases the treatment is only partially effective. And some of the treatments carry significant risk. It's clearly much better not to have a stroke in the first place. Although one may sometimes suffer a stroke even when doing everything right, the chances are far lower if you address all changeable risk factors.
In the Results section below, we describe your overall risk for stroke, along with those practices that are lowering your risk. Anything you might do to further reduce your risk of stroke is discussed in the Recommendations section.
Compared to a typical woman your age, your risk of suffering a stroke is BELOW AVERAGE.
Below average risk means you have few of the known risk factors for stroke. But remember this is just an estimate. If you have any concerns, talk to a qualified healthcare professional.
In the Recommendations section, we talk about the things you may be able to do to lower your risk further, although the list is probably short. Below we discuss the things you're already doing that reduce your risk of stroke. So keep up the good work!
Your blood pressure is in a healthy range.
Blood pressure has a major effect on the health of your blood vessels, particularly those that feed your heart, brain and kidneys. Elevated blood pressure raises your risk for heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. Thus, keeping your blood pressure in a healthy range has a significant beneficial impact on your health. To keep your blood pressure in a healthy range as the years go by, we suggest you maintain a healthy body weight, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, avoid too much red meat and full fat dairy, exercise regularly and don't overdo the salt.
You have never smoked cigarettes. Not smoking lowers your risk of stroke, heart attack and several types of cancer, and improves your overall health. Smoking is the leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, smoking causes 30% of all cancer deaths - that's 400,000 deaths per year. Congratulations on never smoking!
You exercise at least 1 hour per week. People who are physically active for at least 1 hour per week have a may have lower risk of stroke, although real benefit probably starts to occur at 2 to 3 hours per week. Exercise has a number of beneficial effects on the circulatory system and metabolism that make stroke less likely. Physically active people also have a lower risk of colon cancer, diabetes and heart attack. And activity helps maintain a healthy weight. Note that more exercise is better, up to the point where the risk of injury becomes significant, somewhere well beyond 6 hours per week. So keep up the exercise!
You drink less than 2 alcoholic beverages a day. Evidence suggests that moderate consumption of alcohol (up to 2 drinks per day for men, up to