High triglycerides better marker for stroke than cholesterol

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Triglyceride levels and stroke linked.

Higher triglyceride levels may be a more important risk factor for stroke than cholesterol levels, finds a new study; especially for women.

Non-fasting triglyceride levels should be considered risk for stroke

Findings from Denmark researchers found high cholesterol levels increased the chances of stroke in men whose triglyceride levels were also high. For women, triglyceride levels increased the chances of stroke, independent of cholesterol levels.

Lead study author, Dr. Marianne Benn from Copenhagen University Hospital says, "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."


Triglycerides are similar to "bad" LDL cholesterol, explain the researchers, both of which are believed to lead to plaque buildup or atherosclerosis that can obstruct blood flow to the brain and cause stroke.

For the research, investigators followed 7,579 women and 6,372 men who were enrolled in the Copenhagen City Heart Study for up to 33 years. All were Danish descent and had levels of triglycerides and cholesterol taken at baseline. One hundred percent of the participants completed follow-up. The results showed 837 women and 837 suffered ischemic stroke that was associated with higher levels of non fasting triglycerides.

The study, published in the Annals of Neurology, confirmed that higher triglycerides boost the chances of stroke. For women, the risk was 1.2 times higher with non-fasting levels of 89-177 mg/dL. Levels of 443 mg/dL increased the chances of stroke 3.9 fold.

"Our findings suggest that levels of non-fasting triglycerides should be included in stroke prevention guidelines which currently focus on total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels," concluded Dr. Benn. In the study, higher triglyceride levels were found to increase stroke risk in both men and women. For women, high cholesterol levels did not increase stroke risk.

"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).


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