People with a genetic predisposition to strokes may be able to ward off the condition with a healthy lifestyle, a new study suggests.
Adopting a healthy diet, not smoking, not being obese and taking regular exercise can reduce a person's risk of the life-threatening medical condition, regardless of whether they have a high genetic risk of stroke, experts found.
Commenting on the new study, published in The BMJ, British Heart Foundation (BHF) said: "DNA alone does not necessarily determine destiny."
Researchers from the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh, along with German colleagues, examined data on more than 300,000 people aged 40 to 73 recruited to the UK Biobank Study.
They then examined people's genetic markers to see whether they were predisposed to a higher or lower risk of stroke.
During the average seven-year follow-up period there were more than 2,000 strokes.
The risk of stroke was 35% higher among those determined to have a high genetic risk compared with those with a low-risk genetic profile.
And people who led an unhealthy lifestyle had a 66% increased risk of stroke compared with those who led healthy lives.
The authors found that the association with a healthy lifestyle was "independent of genetic risk stratums".
They wrote: "Genetic and lifestyle factors were independently associated with incident stroke.
"These results emphasise the benefit of entire populations adhering to a healthy lifestyle, independent of genetic risk."
Commenting on the study, Professor Metin Avkiran, associate medical director at the BHF, said: "DNA alone does not necessarily determine destiny.
"Our risk of developing disease is often down to a combination of our genes, our environment and our lifestyle.
"This research suggests that, regardless of whether your genes put you at higher or lower risk of suffering a stroke, adopting a healthy lifestyle reduces the overall risk.
"In the UK, around 38,000 people die each year after having a stroke and another 1.2 million people are living with the cruel and debilitating after-effects of this disease.
"Even with modern medicine, our ability to prevent and treat strokes remains limited. Only through funding more research can we offer hope for the future."
Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Steve Parson / PA Wire.