People in South and East Asian might want to consider eating a little healthier and being more active, as the second study to come out of the region in the past month finds that Chinese people might be at a 21 percent higher risk than white people for having a stroke.

"While stroke is the second most common cause of death worldwide, in China it is the leading cause of death and adult disability," study author Dr. Chung-Fen Tsai, of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, said in a news release. "The global impact of stroke in the decades ahead is predicted to be greatest in middle income countries, including China. It is important to gain a better understanding of how stroke affects different populations as we try to reduce the burden of the disease worldwide."

The team of researchers reviewed studies from as far back as 1990 to assess information regarding first strokes in Chinese people in China and Taiwan. Out of a total of 404, 254 people, there were 3,935 strokes. They then looked at 10 community-based studies on white people and stroke, which reported that out of 1,885,067 people, there were 4,568 strokes.

When these groups were compared, Chinese people had a slightly higher overall risk of stroke, with a range of 205 to 584 strokes per 100,000 Chinese people, aged 45 to 74, compared to 170 to 335 strokes per 100,000 white people of the same age. What's more, Chinese people also had a higher risk of intracerebral hemorrhage, which is caused by a ruptured blood vessel in the brain, as well as an earlier average age of stroke onset of 66 to 70 years old, compared to 72 to 76 years old for whites.

Although the researchers couldn't find causation, a study from earlier this month found that South Asians were at a higher risk of diabetes than white people due to higher amounts of body fat and blood sugar levels, which occurred because of less physical activity and lower fitness levels. These factors also account for a higher risk of stroke.

According to the American Heart Association, physical activity improves heart function and lipid (fat) profiles by reducing total cholesterol and raising good cholesterol. It also lowers blood pressure and resting heart rate. The American Diabetes Association also says that someone with diabetes is two to four times more likely to have a stroke than someone who doesn't have diabetes.

For the South Asians, lower fitness levels and more body fat accounted for 83 percent of their increased insulin resistance. When the body's cells become resistant to insulin, the pancreas produces more of it, which can eventually lead to hyperglycemia, a condition which progresses to type 2 diabetes.

"The fact that South Asians' increased insulin resistance and blood sugar levels are strongly associated with lower fitness levels, and that increasing physical activity is the only way to increase fitness, suggests that South Asians may need to engage in greater levels of physical activity than Europeans to achieve the same levels of fitness and minimize their diabetes risk," Dr. Jason Gill, researcher at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and author of the study, said.

Source: Tsai C, Thomas B, Sudlow C, et al. Epidemiology of stroke and its subtypes in Chinese vs white populations. Neurology. 2013.