Intracerebral hemorrhage is
the most serious type of stroke with few treatment options. About one in ten
cases of stroke is an intracerebral hemorrhage, a condition caused by bleeding
within the brain tissue, with high risk of death and disability.

In the current
register-based study researchers from Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of
Gothenburg shows a clear link, although not causality, between physical
activity and protection agains severe sympthoms of intracerebral hemorrhage.

Four hours of light
physical activity per week can now be linked to milder symptoms from
intracerebral hemorrhage, and also to better survival rates, a University of
Gothenburg study shows.

The results show that
people who perform light physical activity, such as walking or bicycling for at
least four hours per week, have a 3.5 times higher probability to experience
mild symptoms from intracerebral hemorrhage, and more than twice the chance to survive
five years, compared to those who are less active.

Common stroke symptoms
include, paralysis (usually in one half of the body), slurred speech, loss of
vision, dizziness with balance difficulties, severe headache and loss of
consciousness.

First author of the study,
published in the journal Neurology, is Adam Viktorisson, a PhD student in
Clinical Neuroscience at Sahlgrenska Academy, and a medical intern at
Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg.

This is the first study
that examines the relationship between physical activity, acute stroke symptoms
and death after intracerebral hemorrhage. The results show that light physical
activity, such as taking a walk or cycling for at least 35 minutes per day,
markedly reduces the likelihood of severe symptoms and death after
intracerebral hemorrhage, he says.

The study includes all
patients treated for intracerebral hemorrhage at Sahlgrenska University
Hospital in between 2014 and 2019. A total of 763 people with intracerebral
hemorrhage and a comparison group of 4 425 people with ischemic stroke
(cerebral infarction) were included. The average age was 73 years and 50
percent were women.

In the study, over half
were inactive before their intracerebral hemorrhage, 1 in 3 performed light
physical activity, and less than 1 in 20 exercised regularly.

Physical activity is not
synonymous with exercise. Exercising means structured and repetitive physical
activities done to strengthen muscles or improve fitness. Physical activity can
be walking to work or going to the store. It is remarkable that even light
physical activity seems to make a big difference. However, the study is based
on an elderly population, for whom even light physical activities may be
straining, Adam Viktorisson says.

The researchers have
combined information from several Swedish registers: The local stroke register
at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital (Väststroke), the national stroke
register (Riksstroke), the Statistics Sweden Register, the Swedish National
Patient Register and the Cause of Death Register. The follow-up of mortality
continued until October 2021, up to 7 years.

The probability of
surviving 5 years was 73% among those who were physically active before the
intracerebral hemorrhage and only 33% among those who were inactive.

Of particular note is that
those who were physically active but suffered from severe co-morbidity had
higher survival rates, compared to those who were inactive but otherwise
healthy.

Hopefully this study can
encourage people to be more physically active. That would reduce the number of
severely injured patients and give them a better quality of life, and at the
same time less burden on the healthcare system, says last author, Professor
Katharina Stibrant Sunnerhagen.

Reference:

ADAM VIKTORISSON et
al,Associations of Prestroke Physical Activity With Stroke Severity and
Mortality After Intracerebral Hemorrhage Compared With Ischemic Stroke,
Neurology, DOI 10.1212/WNL.0000000000201097

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