High fat content, not cholesterol, to blame for stroke

High fat content, not cholesterol, to blame for stroke

NEW DELHI: High levels of triglyceride — a type of fat found in the blood —and not low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol, could be the reason behind why so many Indians suffer from stroke.

A 33-year-long study by researchers in Denmark have for the first time shown that increased levels of non-fasting triglycerides are associated with an increased risk of ischemic stroke in both men and women.

Higher cholesterol levels were associated with greater stroke risk in men only, and that too if their LDL was double of what it should be. Current guidelines on stroke prevention have recommendations on desirable cholesterol levels, but not on non-fasting triglycerides.

The study — published in ” Annals of Neurology” — is very important for India since the population here are known to have high levels of triglyceride and low levels of LDL cholesterol. By 2015, India is expected to report 1.6 million cases of stroke annually. Indian Council of Medical Research estimate says in 2004, there were 9.3 lakh cases of stroke and 6.4 lakh deaths due to it in the country — most of them being less than 45 years.

The study’s lead author Dr Marianne Benn of Copenhagen University hospital said, “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. 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.”

Dr Kameshwar Prasad, professor of neurology at AIIMS, told TOI, “This is a very important finding. However, the cholesterol and stroke risk data is very strong because we have seen how lowering cholesterol levels reduces cases of stroke. The same has to be demonstrated by lowering non-fasting triglyceride levels and seeing if that reduces stroke numbers for it to become a clinching evidence. This data is important for Indians known to have high triglyceride levels.”

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