June 18th, 2010
11:44 AM ET

Smoking, hypertension top world stroke risks

By David Martin
CNN Medical Senior Producer

Rich nation or poor, high blood pressure and smoking pose the biggest risks for stroke, according to a new 22-country study released Friday.

“They are important risk factors everywhere,” said study co-author Dr. Martin J. O’Donnell with the Population Health Research Institute at Canada’s McMaster University.

Rounding out the Top Five risk factors for stroke were waist-to-hip ratio, a measure of abdominal obesity; diet, considering how many fruits and vegetables were eaten daily; and physical activity. These  factors accounted for more than 80 percent of the total stroke risk, according to the study.

“These risk factors are even more important than we thought,” said O’Donnell, who co-wrote the study with Dr. Salim Yusuf, also of McMaster University. O’Donnell and Yusuf were scheduled to present the study Friday at The World Congress of Cardiology in Beijing.

O’Donnell said the results offered a blueprint for health policies aimed at reducing stroke, the second-leading cause of death worldwide. High blood pressure is easily screened and can be treated with inexpensive medication, while quitting smoking immediately starts lowering risk, he said.

The global reach of the study sets it apart from previous stroke research.

High blood pressure had been well established as the leading cause of stroke in North America and Europe. This study shows high blood pressure also poses the biggest risks elsewhere in the world, such as China and India.

High blood pressure increased the risk of stroke two-and-a-half times, while smoking doubled it, according to the study. High blood pressure was associated with a third of all strokes; smoking, a fifth of all strokes, the study found.

Other Top 10 risk factors for stroke found in the study: the ratio of bad to good blood lipids (fats), diabetes, alcohol intake, stress and depression, and heart disorders. The Top 10 factors are associated with 90 percent of stroke risk.

In addition to offering a blueprint for health policy, O’Donnell said the study could also help individuals, since the majority of risk factors are linked to lifestyle.

“Most of the behaviors are modifiable,” he said.

The study gathered data from 6,000 people in 22 countries in North and South America, Asia, Africa and Australia, looking at 3,000 patients who had suffered a first stroke and 3,000 controls.

These results represent the first phase of a two-phase study, called INTERSTROKE. The second phase will look at 20,000 patients and increase the number of countries participating to 27. Results are expected in 2013, O’Donnell said.

The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, Canadian Stroke Network, and the pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, Merck, AstraZeneca and Boehringer Ingelheim.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.

soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. qaz668

    An alternative for smokers is to switch to an electronic cigarette. They produce no smoke – only a water-based vapor that does not leave bad smells in clothes or hair, but the vapor does replicate the tactile sensations of smoking as well as providing the nicotine smokers crave. They cannot cause a fire when using them as nothing burns so they are safer. They leave no tar in the lungs. My mother has not touched a regular cigarette since trying her electronic cigarette from CleanGreenNicotine.com.

    June 18, 2010 at 16:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Kevin

    Prevention is the key... most of the top ten reasons are modifiable. The key is lifestyle changes. Programs that create incentives for people to live a healthy lifestyle should be promoted. Strokes can be life changing and can require extensive resources. Many of my clients have to modify many aspects of their lives... their home, their future plans.


    June 21, 2010 at 19:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Layla Cook

    hypertension is a common disease among the older age men and women.*.:

    July 23, 2010 at 01:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Mohammed Hughes

    hypertension can be minimized by taking some food supplements like fish oil and CoQ10;-.

    September 9, 2010 at 10:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Light Fittings `

    hyptertension can also be minimized by just taking some relaxation exercises each day.*;

    October 12, 2010 at 02:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Anti-Aging :

    hypertension is a very common disease among the elderly, fish oil can supplements can help hypertension..:

    October 24, 2010 at 06:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. MyKo

    Thanks for your invitation to LinkedIn! Like your wbstiee I'm sure you're enjoying working for yourself. (I couldn't even imagine working for someone ever again!). Hope you and your family are doing well.

    September 14, 2012 at 02:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. fk1n0d73mo

    , carolina del nord – fulmine potrebbe essere la colpa per gli incendi in due case adiacenti a cary martedì sera
    Roger Vivier on line
    tro act corso di preparazione il prossimo mese . il corso si terrà 18:00-20:00 , 20 febbraio , 21 febbraio , 27 f
    Hello Kitty Gioielli
    anyone viola con le informazioni circa l'incidente è pregato di chiamare nc state polizia del campus . gli invest
    Pompe Roger Vivier
    del 20 a 24 miliardi di metri cubi , secondo un sondaggio da platts , il braccio di informazioni di energia di mc
    Swarovski Gioielli

    May 6, 2013 at 13:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Kit

    Great post. I was checking continuously thjis weblog and I am impressed!
    Very useful info specially the emaining part 🙂 I maintain sufh info a lot.
    I was seeking this particular info for a long time. Thanks annd good luck.

    January 9, 2015 at 17:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Bret Brunner

    tani hotel warszawa


    June 30, 2016 at 04:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Kirsten Corpening

    An interesting discussion will probably be worth comment. I believe that you need to write much more about this topic, it might not often be a taboo subject but normally consumers are insufficient to communicate on such topics. To a higher. Cheers


    July 12, 2016 at 23:02 | Report abuse | Reply

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.