A local researcher on Sunday announced that he has come up with a formula to predict with an 80 percent accuracy rate the chances of someone having a stroke within 10 years, based on their medical records.
After analyzing the medical records of 500,000 people, National Health Research Institute researcher Wen Chi-pang (溫啟邦) found that there are five main factors that affect the probability of a stroke: if a person is a smoker, a vegetarian, or overweight, and if they exercise to either extreme or drink alcohol.
The answers to these five questions, combined with data on a person’s blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and uric acid, as well as the presence of anemia and chronic kidney disease, can help predict a stroke with an 80 percent accuracy rate, Wen said.
If the answer to these five questions is yes, the person has a 45 percent chance of suffering a stroke in 10 years, he added.
The likelihood of having a stroke goes up to 93 percent if the individual also suffers from abnormal blood pressure and diabetes, he said.
If other problems such as high cholesterol, anemia, chronic kidney disease and high uric acid levels are factored in, the probability of suffering a stroke rises to 100 percent, he added.
For example, a 60-year-old male vegetarian with normal body weight, who smokes, drinks and does not exercise, would have an 11.1 percent chance of suffering a stroke in the next 10 years, Wen said.
The probability would soar to 84.7 percent if the man is also overweight and exercises vigorously.
However, if he quits smoking, the probability would drop to 54.4 percent, the researcher said.
It would fall further to below 20 percent if the man’s cholesterol and blood pressure return to normal levels, Wen said.
While the ideal cholesterol level for people is between 200mg per deciliter and 300mg per deciliter, studies in Taiwan and abroad show that vegetarians usually have a level of below 130mg per deciliter — which makes them twice as likely as those with an ideal level to suffer a hemorrhagic stroke, he said.
A reading of 160mg per deciliter means a person will have a 50 percent higher chance of suffering a hemorrhagic stroke than those who do not, the researcher said.
Vegetarians tend to have lower cholesterol levels because they lack certain nutrients obtained from meat, he said.
This does not just increase their chances of stroke, but also of developing cancer, he added.
He suggested that non-meat eaters should eat a more balanced diet and exercise more.