Mental and physical fitness linked to stroke risk

Studies examining comprehensive health data from men aged 18 have highlighted a strong link between teenagers’ fitness and long-term stroke risk.

The findings indicated that being physically active during the teenage years could decrease the risk of having a stroke later in life.

Professor Michael Nilsson said the first study “showed a significant correlation between aerobic fitness and, to a lesser degree, muscle strength to stroke risk, we tend to think that cardiovascular fitness is more influential but it seems you can gain added benefits if you combine muscular strength,” he added.

A recent follow-up study singled out 45,000 men who had been diagnosed with a non-psychotic mental disorder in the form of anxiety, depression, personality disorders, and addiction at 18 years of age. It showed that stroke was 2.6 times more prevalent in this group.

The greatest increase in risk involved addiction, with a figure of 60 per cent for alcohol and substance abuse. For those suffering depression and neurotic disorders, first-time stroke risk increased by 25%. These figures rose to over 50% for personality disorders. Corresponding figures for fatal stroke ranged between 40 and 60 per cent.

These studies uncover the need to stimulate the mechanisms underpinning brain resilience around the time of adolescence. They will also be used to inform future studies, including research to understand which methods should be applied to motivate people suffering from mental illness to participate in regular physical exercise.

Read more here: The University of Newcastle.