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Non-Vigorous Exercise Tied to Lower Stroke Risk in Women

Walking in particular is associated with lower risks of total, hemorrhagic, ischemic stroke

WEDNESDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) -- In women, leisure-time physical activity -- particularly walking -- is associated with a lower risk of stroke, though vigorous physical activity is not related to stroke risk, according to a study published online April 6 in Stroke.

Jacob R. Sattelmair, of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues studied 39,315 women ages 45 and older from the Women's Health Study who were healthy at baseline in 1992 to 1995 and were followed for an average of 11.9 years.

During follow-up, 579 women developed incident stroke: 473 ischemic, 102 hemorrhagic, and four of unknown type. The researchers found that the multivariable relative risks of total stroke associated with leisure-time physical activity expenditures of less than 200, 200 to 599, 600 to 1,499, and at least 1,500 kcal/week were 1.00 (referent), 1.11, 0.86, and 0.83, respectively. They observed similar associations for ischemic stroke but no associations for hemorrhagic stroke. Although they found that vigorous physical activity was unrelated to stroke risk, they found an inverse relationship between total, ischemic, and hemorrhagic stroke risks and walking time and walking pace (P trend between 0.002 and 0.07).

"Future studies with larger numbers of hemorrhagic strokes will be useful," the authors conclude. "Also, studies among racial/ethnic minorities, particularly black women in whom stroke rates are almost twice that in white women, are needed."

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