The British Medical Journal and panel discussion School of Public Health – Harvard


The study featured in this month’s Frontal Lobe blog looked at the effect of lifestyle changes on those genetically predisposed to stroke. Analyzing over 300,000 patients over a 7 year period it was determined that men had a higher likelihood of stroke than women but, at the same time, those with unhealthy lifestyles had a 66% greater chance of stroke than those who had made healthful lifestyle choices. The most critical lifestyle factors were smoking and whether or not they were overweight. People with both high genetic risk and an unhealthful lifestyle were more than twice as much at risk.

In a panel discussion at Harvard, the experts noted that although stroke deaths have  fallen sharply in recent decades, we are seeing a leveling off and we are seeing strokes occurring in younger people, those 35-64. The reasons speculated are the high rate of diabetes, obesity and physical inactivity.


Marijuana Study

Tracking 2.3 million American recreational marijuana users who were hospitalized indicated that there is an increased risk for stroke. This does not establish causation but does suggest further research is called for. In addition, the researcher do not know if the risk may be tied to smoking or ingesting or the amount of the drug used. Also, there was no tracking for possible other drug usage or other risk factors.


The Guardian

Study from the Netherlands projects that 48% of women and 36% of men aged 45 are likely to be diagnosed with dementia, Parkinson’s or have a stroke. These are the three most common neurological diseases in the elderly population. While there is a great deal of focus on heart disease and cancer in middle age, there is less attention and research on diseases of the brain. Focus on preventive interventions at the population level could substantially reduce the burden of these common neurological diseases in the aging population. They estimate that if the onset of dementia were delayed by one to three years, the remaining risk of developing the conditions could be cut by 20% among 45 year olds and more that 50% in those over 85.

The best current evidence suggests eating a balanced diet, controlling our weight, staying active, not smoking, moderate drinking and control of blood pressure and cholesterol will lead to better brain health in the elderly.