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Harshfield, Eric L.; Georgakis, Marios K.; Malik, Rainer; Dichgans, Martin ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0654-387X and Markus, Hugh S. (2021): Modifiable Lifestyle Factors and Risk of Stroke A Mendelian Randomization Analysis. In: Stroke, Vol. 52, No. 3: pp. 931-936 [PDF, 1MB]

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Background and Purpose: Assessing whether modifiable risk factors are causally associated with stroke risk is important in planning public health measures, but determining causality can be difficult in epidemiological data. We evaluated whether modifiable lifestyle factors including educational attainment, smoking, and body mass index are causal risk factors for ischemic stroke and its subtypes and hemorrhagic stroke. Methods: We performed 2-sample and multivariable Mendelian randomization to assess the causal effect of 12 lifestyle factors on risk of stroke and whether these effects are independent. Results: Genetically predicted years of education was inversely associated with ischemic, large artery, and small vessel stroke, and intracerebral hemorrhage. Genetically predicted smoking, body mass index, and waist-hip ratio were associated with ischemic and large artery stroke. The effects of education, body mass index, and smoking on ischemic stroke were independent. Conclusions: Our findings support the hypothesis that reduced education and increased smoking and obesity increase risk of ischemic, large artery, and small vessel stroke, suggesting that lifestyle modifications addressing these risk factors will reduce stroke risk.

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