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The Impact of Diet and Lifestyle on Stroke Severity in Sub-Saharan Africa: Evidence from Recent Findings


Stroke remains a leading cause of mortality and long-term disability worldwide, with significant prevalence in Sub-Saharan Africa. Recent findings from the SIREN study shed light on lifestyle factors that influence stroke severity, offering actionable insights for prevention strategies.

Forest plot of the factors associated with ischaemic stroke severity by Stroke Levity Scale
Forest plot of the factors associated with ischaemic stroke severity by Stroke Levity Scale

Dietary Factors: Vegetables vs. Meat

At the forefront, low vegetable consumption emerges as the most significant dietary factor, with an odds ratio (OR) of 2.23. This strong association suggests that a diet rich in vegetables could play a vital role in stroke prevention and management. On the flip side, increased meat consumption is also a significant factor, with an OR of 1.50, indicating that higher meat intake may elevate stroke severity risk.

Lifestyle Factors: The Role of Physical Activity and Habits

The analysis further identified lifestyle habits that could be influential. Smoking and physical inactivity are noted, albeit with less statistical significance compared to dietary factors. However, they highlight the importance of a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and smoking cessation as potential preventive measures.

The Alcohol Paradox

Interestingly, moderate alcohol consumption has an OR of 0.72, hinting at a possible protective effect. Yet, with the confidence interval upper limit approaching 1, this association should be approached with caution and should not be taken as an endorsement of alcohol consumption as a preventative strategy.

Other Contributing Conditions

The plot also sheds light on other conditions like hypertension, diabetes, and cardiac diseases, which have traditionally been associated with increased stroke risks, yet in this analysis, their ORs are closer to 1, suggesting a more complex relationship with stroke severity in the studied population.


This insight into the role of diet and lifestyle in stroke severity is a call to action for both individuals and policymakers. Emphasizing vegetable intake and moderating meat consumption, coupled with lifestyle adjustments, could be key in reducing stroke severity in Sub-Saharan Africa. These findings should guide future public health initiatives and personal health decisions, leading to a targeted approach in stroke prevention and health promotion.

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