Increasing triglyceride levels linked to greater stroke risk

Feb 21, 2011

A study by researchers in Denmark revealed that increasing levels of non-fasting triglycerides are associated with an increased risk of ischemic stroke in men and women. Higher cholesterol levels were associated with greater stroke risk in men only. Details of this novel, 33-year study are now available online in Annals of Neurology, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American Neurological Association.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death globally—responsible for an estimated 17.1 million deaths worldwide ( 2004), with 5.7 million due to stroke. The American Stroke Association states that stroke is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. and 87% of all cases are attributed to , occurring when the supply of blood to the brain is obstructed. The obstruction or blockage is typically caused by the build-up of fatty deposits inside blood vessels (atherosclerosis).

Medical evidence suggests that elevated non-fasting are markers of elevated levels of lipoprotein remnants, particles similar to low density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol, both of which are thought to contribute to plaque build-up. "Interestingly, current guidelines on stroke prevention have recommendations on desirable cholesterol levels, but not on non-fasting triglycerides," said lead study author, Dr. Marianne Benn from Copenhagen University Hospital. "Our study was the first to examine how the risk of stroke for very high levels of non-fasting triglycerides compared with very high cholesterol levels in the general population."

The Danish team followed 7,579 women and 6,372 men who were enrolled in the Copenhagen City Heart Study, all of whom were white and of Danish decent. Participants had non-fasting triglycerides and cholesterol measurements taken at baseline (1976-1978) and were followed for up to 33 years. A diagnosis of ischemic stroke was made when focal neurological symptoms lasted more than 24 hours. During the follow-up period, completed by 100% of participants, 837 women and 837 men developed ischemic stroke.

Results confirmed in both women and men, stepwise increasing levels of non-fasting triglycerides associated with increased risk of ischemic stroke. In women, triglycerides levels of 1-2 mmol/L (89-177 mg/dL) carried a relative risk of 1.2 and levels of 5 mmol/L (443 mg/dL) or greater were associated with a 3.9-fold greater risk, compared with women whose triglycerides levels were less than 1 mmol/L (89 mg/dL). At similar triglyceride levels men had a relative risk that ranged from 1.2 to 2.3. Increasing cholesterol levels did not associate with greater risk of ischemic stroke, except in men whose cholesterol levels were equal to 9 mmol/L (348 mg/dL) or more (relative risk of 4.4).

"Our findings suggest that levels of non-fasting triglycerides should be included in stroke prevention guidelines which currently focus on total cholesterol and LDL levels," concluded Dr. Benn.

Explore further: Lucid dreams and metacognition: Awareness of thinking—awareness of dreaming

More information: "Non-fasting Triglycerides, Cholesterol and Stroke in the General Population." Anette Varbo, Børge G. Nordestgaard, Anne Tybjærg-Hansen, Peter Schnohr, Gorm B. Jensen, and Marianne Benn. Annals of Neurology; Published Online: February 21, 2011 (DOI:10.1002/ana.22384 ).

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

High triglycerides, other cholesterol raise risk of stroke

Dec 27, 2007

People with high triglycerides and another type of cholesterol tested but not usually evaluated as part of a person’s risk assessment have an increased risk of a certain type of stroke, according to research published in ...

Recommended for you

The brain's electrical alphabet

Jan 23, 2015

The brain's alphabet is a mix of rate and precise timing of electrical pulses: the observation was made by researchers at the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Trieste and the Italian Institute ...

Dragnet for epilepsy genes

Jan 23, 2015

An international team of scientists together with the University of Bonn Hospital have taken a new path in the research into causes of epilepsy: The researchers determined the networks of the active genes ...

The molecular biology behind ALS

Jan 23, 2015

UA researchers have identified a molecular defect in motor neurons that may help explain the mechanisms underlying ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.