(HealthDay News) — For women, moderate to strenuous physical activity is associated with a decreased risk of stroke, even among those using postmenopausal hormone therapy, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association’s International Stroke Conference, held from February 12–14 in San Diego.

Sophia S. Wang, PhD, from the Beckman Research Institute at the City of Hope in Duarte, CA, and colleagues used data from the California Teachers Study, including 133,479 women who were followed from enrollment in 1995. The authors sought to evaluate three modifiable stroke risk factors: obesity, hormone therapy, and physical activity. Information about these risk factors was collected at baseline and in follow-up questionnaires through 2010.

The researchers identified 3,126 stroke events, including 2,416 ischemic and 710 hemorrhagic. Current postmenopausal hormone therapy correlated with a significantly increased risk for stroke (hazard ratio, 1.3), consistent with previous reports. The risk of stroke was decreased with moderate to strenuous physical activity in the three years before enrollment (but not lifetime activity), with a hazard ratio of 0.79. This decrease was also seen among current hormone users and may counteract the increased risk seen with current hormone therapy use. The correlation between obesity and stroke was not independent of diabetes.

“The effects of physical activity and hormone therapy appear immediate and the benefits of physical activity are consistent in premenopausal and postmenopausal women,” Wang said in a statement. “You don’t have to do an extreme boot camp. The types of activities we’re talking about are accessible to most of the population.”

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