Stroke: The simple dietary swap found to slash the risk of stroke by 14% – new study

Thomas Markle makes first public appearance since stroke

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Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the study found that moving from salt to salt-substitutes could reduce the risk of stroke by up to 14 percent.

The study analysed data among 20,995 residents from Chinese villages. Of the participants in the study, the average age was 65.4 years while 72 percent of participants had a history of stroke and 88 percent a history of hypertension.

Writing in the journal, the authors concluded: “Among persons who had a history of stroke or were 60 years of age or older and had high blood pressure, the rates of stroke, major cardiovascular events, and death from any cause were lower with the salt substitute than with regular salt.”

What are salt substitutes?

Salt substitutes give food the same salty flavour but contain much less sodium. These products contain potassium instead of sodium so they could help you to lower your blood pressure if you find it too hard to cook without adding salt.

These products include LoSalt, and there are other brands available.

The results of this study highlight the important role diet plays in increasing or reducing the risk of a stroke or other cardiovascular event through diet.

Were there any caveats?

In common with all studies, there were some limitations to that carried out by the researchers. The first of these was the fact that only older individuals were studied, there was no data collected for the impact on young individuals.

Furthermore, while large, the study cohort was small in comparison to other studies on the same subject. Subsequently, more research is required into this field and a greater range of bodily states required.

Nevertheless, this does not lower the standing of the research in question, which shows, alongside other things, that salt-substitutes can have positive health based impact.

The study also formed part of a wider Salt Substitute and Stroke Study – a meta-analysis into the impact of salt on the risk of cardiovascular conditions such as stroke and high blood pressure.

What are the best ways for someone to reduce their risk of stroke?

In common with other conditions, there are some risk factors which can be controlled and others which can’t in regards to stroke.

Diet is one of the primary areas where a positive impact can be made. The NHS advises a “low-fat, high-fibre diet” as this can improve cardiovascular health.

Furthermore, it adds: “Ensuring a balance in your diet is important. Do not eat too much of any single food, particularly foods high in salt and processed foods.”

As well as maintaining a healthy diet, exercise is essential: the National Health Service recommends a minimum of at least 150 minutes a week. However, the more exercise one conducts, the greater the benefits.

Other tips for stroke risk reduction include quitting smoking. The reason for this is because the act narrows the arteries and makes the blood more likely to clot, causing a stroke.

Furthermore, the narrowing of the arteries raises blood pressure significantly as it forces the heart to work harder to push the same volume of blood through a narrower gap.

The NHS adds: “Not smoking will also improve your general health and reduce your risk of developing other serious conditions.” However, quitting smoking is no easy task and there are plenty of resources available to help people quit.

Alongside quitting smoking, cutting down on alcohol is another relatively easy way to improve one’s stroke odds; excessive alcohol consumption leads to high blood pressure and can trigger the onset of atrial fibrillation, also known as an irregular heartbeat.

While there are some factors one can control in regards to stroke risk, there are others people can’t such as their age, gender, ethnicity, or medical history.

As well as these risk factors, it’s crucial for individuals to manage any underlying conditions, allowing these to slip out of control can worsen cardiovascular health.

All this forms part of the daily balancing act everyone performs throughout the year, that balance between living and enjoying life.

However, while some lifestyle changes can feel difficult and awkward at first, they can have substantial health benefits in the long run.

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