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Effects of Leisure-Time Physical Activity and Ventilatory Function on Risk for Stroke in Men: The Reykjavík Study

Uggi Agnarsson, MD; Gudmundur Thorgeirsson, MD, PhD; Helgi Sigvaldason, PhD; and Nikulas Sigfusson, MD, PhD
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From the Icelandic Heart Association and the National University Hospital, Reykjavík, Iceland.


Ann Intern Med. 1999;130(12):987-990. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-130-12-199906150-00006
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Background: Stroke is a major cause of illness, death, and health expenditures. Leisure-time physical activity may reduce the risk for stroke.

Objective: To examine the association of leisure-time physical activity and pulmonary function with risk for stroke.

Design: Prospective cohort study.

Setting: Reykjavík, Iceland.

Participants: 4484 men 45 to 80 years of age followed for a mean (±SD) of 10.6 ± 3.6 years.

Measurements: Patients underwent physical examination, blood sampling, and spirometry and completed a questionnaire about health and exercise. Computerized hospital records were used to identify strokes, and the Icelandic National Registry was used to identify deaths.

Results: New stroke developed in 249 men (5.6%) (hemorrhagic stroke in 44 [18%] and ischemic stroke in 205 [82%]). In a multivariable hazard analysis that controlled for known risk factors for cerebrovascular disease, leisure-time physical activity maintained after 40 years of age was associated with a reduced risk for stroke (relative risk, 0.69 [CI, 0.47 to 1.01] for total stroke and 0.62 [CI, 0.40 to 0.97] for ischemic stroke). Risk for stroke increased with diminished ventilatory function (FVC or FEV1) (relative risk, 1.9 [CI, 1.06 to 3.25] for the lowest compared with the highest quintile).

Conclusion: Middle-aged men who participate in leisure-time physical activity and have good pulmonary function seem to have a lower risk for stroke than men who are not active or have diminished pulmonary function.

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