Published: 10/01/2001, Volume 112, No. 5787 Page 22

The Stroke Association is concerned that people reading reports claiming film star Sharon Stone's stroke was caused by her intense fitness routine might be put off or even stop exercising themselves.

From information the charity has received, Sharon Stone's stroke was caused by a burst blood vessel. The likelihood is that she was born with a weakened blood vessel wall which could have burst at anytime in her life, whether she was exercising or not.

There is strong evidence to show that physical activity brings many benefits. The association stresses that people should keep on exercising as it can actually help to reduce your risk of a stroke.

In fact, the charity recommends people carry out 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, five times a week.

Around 100,000 people will suffer a first stroke each year. In many cases, the cause of stroke is not understood. However, we know that contributing factors for a stroke include smoking, excessive drinking, diabetes, unhealthy diet and high blood pressure.

The association therefore encourages people who are worried about their risk of a stroke to look at their diet and their lifestyle as risk factors before abandoning their valuable fitness routine.

More information on physical activity and stroke is available from the Stroke Association's Information Service on 0845-303 3100.

Eoin Redahan Director of public relations The Stroke Association London EC1