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Stroke risk linked to obesity

Mon 12 Nov 2012

This research sought to identify the relationship between being overweight or obese and the risk of different types of stroke

Stroke is a major cause of death and disability in developed countries. It is more common among older people and the aging population means that burden of stroke on society is likely to increase in the future. Obesity is known to be a controllable risk factor for stroke and there have been many studies done to investigate this relationship. A recent meta-analysis in the journal Stroke has reviewed 25 studies on this topic, which included over 2 million participants.

The researchers sought to identify the relationship between being overweight or obese and the risk of different types of stroke. The main stroke categories are ischaemic (caused by a blood vessel blockage) and haemorrhagic (caused by a burst blood vessel). The review showed a significant relationship between weight and the risk of stroke, with ischaemic stroke most associated.

Overweight people showed a 22% greater probability of ischaemic stroke, and obese people a 64% increased probability compared to normal-weight subjects. There was no association with haemorrhagic stroke and being overweight, but a 24% increased probability for obese people.

In order to further analyse the influence of obesity, the meta-analysis controlled for other risk factors, such as age, alcohol intake, smoking habits and amount of physical exercise engaged in. The association between obesity and risk of ischaemic stroke was found to be largely independent of these other factors.

The researchers state that the results "reinforce the claim in favour of strong educational campaigns focusing on prevention of obesity".


Strazzullo P, et al. (2010) Excess body weight and incidence of stroke: Meta-analysis of prospective studies with 2 million participants. Stroke 41; 418 - 426.


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