"Our study confirmed that modifying lifestyle risk factors, such as controlling blood pressure, can offset a genetic risk of stroke," said Myriam Fornage, PhD, senior author and professor of molecular medicine and human genetics at the Institute of Molecular Medicine at UTHealth Houston.
"We can use genetic information to determine who is at higher risk and encourage them to adopt a healthy cardiovascular lifestyle, such as following the AHA's Life's Simple 7, to lower that risk and live a longer, healthier life."
Fornage is The Laurence and Johanna Favrot distinguished professor in Cardiology at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston.
People in the study who scored the highest for genetic risk of stroke and the poorest for cardiovascular health had the highest lifetime risk of having a stroke at 25 per cent. Regardless of the level of genetic risk of stroke, those who had practiced optimal cardiovascular health lowered that risk by 30 per cent to 45 per cent. That added up to nearly six more years of life free of stroke.
Overall, people with a low adherence to Life's Simple 7 suffered the most stroke events (56.8 per cent) while those with a high adherence had 71 strokes (6.2 per cent).
A limitation of the paper is the polygenic risk score has not been validated broadly, so its clinical utility is not optimal, particularly for people from diverse racial or ethnic backgrounds.