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Just eight years ago researchers saw no difference in the prevalence of stroke between middle-age men and women, but now for the first time women between 45 and 54 are more than twice as likely as their male counterparts to have had a stroke. "Recent reports of a rise in national rates of obesity, an established stroke risk factor, may be contributing to this trend, particularly since it appears that obesity in midlife exerts a more harmful effect on women compared to men," speculates study author Amytis Towfighi, MD, a neurologist at the UCLA Stroke Center. To reduce your risk, she recommends having your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar checked to ensure your numbers are within a healthy range. Also important: maintaining a healthy weight, eating a diet low in cholesterol and saturated fat, getting five daily servings of fruits and vegetables, and carving out at least 30 minutes for aerobic exercise each day. Smokers should quit to reduce their risk.
-- Jennifer Castoro
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, October 2007.