According to a study featured on ScienceDaily.com, changing your lifestyle little by little and dropping those unhealthy habits may lower your risk of stroke.

Researchers from the American Heart Association (AHA) used Life's Simple 7 health factors to assess stroke risk. The factors include being active, eating a balanced diet, controlling cholesterol, maintaining healthy weight, maintaining healthy blood pressure levels, controlling blood sugar, and avoiding smoking.

They then divided the scores of approximately 22,914 Americans ages 45 and above into three categories: inadequate (zero to four points), average (five to nine points), and optimum cardiovascular health (ten to 14 points).

The results showed that stroke risk went down by eight percent for every one point increase in score. Those who had optimum and average cardiovascular health scores were 48 and 27 percent less likely to get a stroke than those who had inadequate scores.

Even raising the score of just one factor may already make a difference, as those who had healthy blood pressure levels lowered their risk by 60 percent, while those who didn't smoke lowered their risk by 40 percent.

So while a healthy lifestyle is, indeed, important, you don't have to change your habits all at once to reap its benefits. Taking things one at a time may do more good than you realize.

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(Photo by Alpha via Flickr Creative Commons)

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