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Top 10 stroke risk factors revealed

People who smoke, have high blood pressure and an expanding waistline are most at risk of stroke, a study has found.

A list of the top 10 risk factors most closely linked with stroke were identified by researchers in Canada after studying the lifestyle and biological factors that contribute to stroke in 22 countries.

They found that five of the 10 factors - high blood pressure, smoking, abdominal obesity, poor diet and lack of exercise - accounted for more than 80% of the worldwide risk of stroke. Other factors included diabetes, alcohol abuse, stress and depression, heart disorders and the presence of blood fat molecules called apolipoproteins.

Scientists leading the Interstroke study looked at the lifestyle and biological factors of 3,000 patients who suffered their first stroke between March 2007 and April 2010 and compared the findings with a control group of healthy individuals.

They found that the top 10 list of lifestyle and biological factors were linked with 90% of the overall risk of stroke.

Commenting on the results, published in The Lancet medical journal, Dr Martin O'Donnell, from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and colleagues wrote: "Our findings suggest that 10 risk factors are associated with 90% of the risk of stroke. Targeted interventions that reduce blood pressure and smoking, and promote physical activity and healthy diet, could substantially reduce the burden of stroke."

The findings were similar to those of a previous study investigating heart attack risk factors.

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The Lancet