Researchers at Columbia University and the University of Miami found the risk of silent strokes was 40% lower in older people who reported high levels of physical activity.
The researchers recorded the exercise habits of 1,238 participants, who were on average 70 years old and have never had a stroke. Adjusting for demographic and cardiovascular risk factors, the results indicated that:
- intense activities such as racquetball, tennis, jogging, and hiking significantly lowered rates of small brain infarcts, areas of dead tissue resulting from lack of blood supply, compared to those who were either slightly active or sedentary.
- the benefits of moderate to high activity levels were wiped out for those on Medicaid or without health insurance. These participants, who were highly active, showed the same risk.
Researchers hypothesized that the overall adverse life experience for those who are uninsured or have Medicaid mitigates the protective effect of leisure-time physical activity further noting it is consistent with the extensive literature on social status being associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease independently of access to care.
Perhaps health reform will have a positive affect for these people. However, it is only up to the individual to further take the responsibility for their overall health including diet and in this case, heavier physical activity. And frankly many people are in denial that they need that help.