Current guidelines on stroke prevention recommend desirable cholesterol levels, but lack guidance relating to non-fasting triglycerides. Some medical evidence suggests that elevated non-fasting triglycerides are markers of elevated levels of lipoprotein remnants, particles similar to low density lipoprotein (LDL, “bad cholesterol”), both of which may contribute to plaque build-up. Marianne Benn, from Copenhagen University Hospital (Denmark), and colleagues followed 7,579 women and 6,372 men who were enrolled in the Copenhagen City Heart Study. Participants had non-fasting triglycerides and cholesterol measurements taken at the study’s start, and were followed for up to 33 years – during which 837 women and 837 men developed ischemic stroke. Results confirmed that 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). The team concludes that: “In women, stepwise increasing levels of nonfasting triglycerides were associated with increasing risk of ischemic stroke while increasing cholesterol levels were not. In men, these results were similar except that cholesterol ≥9.00 mmol/liter was associated with increased risk of ischemic stroke.”
Anette Varbo, Borge G. Nordestgaard, Anne Tybjaerg-Hansen, Peter Schnohr, Gorm B. Jensen, Marianne Benn. “Nonfasting triglycerides, cholesterol, and ischemic stroke in the general population.” Annals of Neurology, 18 FEB 2011, DOI: 10.1002/ana.22384
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