Even with statins, high triglycerides may increase risk of second stroke

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Stroke can have many causes. An atherothrombotic stroke is caused by a clot that forms from plaques that build up within blood vessels in the brain.

In a study from the Tokyo Women’s Medical University, scientists found that people who have an atherothrombotic stroke and higher levels of triglycerides may have a higher risk of having another stroke or other cardiovascular problems one year later, compared to people who had a stroke but have lower triglyceride levels.

The study found an association even when people were taking statin drugs meant to lower triglycerides and protect against heart attack and stroke.

Elevated triglyceride levels are thought to contribute to the hardening of the arteries and increased risk of heart attack, heart disease, and stroke.

In the study, researchers looked at 870 people who had a stroke or transient ischemic attack.

Their average age was 70. Of those, 217, or 25%, had elevated triglyceride levels, defined as fasting triglyceride levels of 150 milligrams per deciliter or higher.

The researchers followed up with the participants one year later to find out if there was an association between high triglyceride levels and having another stroke, acute coronary syndrome, which is any condition caused by a sudden reduction of blood flow to the heart, or death due to vascular causes.

They found that people who had high triglyceride levels had a 21% greater risk of death, stroke, or heart condition one year, compared to a 10% greater risk for those with lower levels.

When researchers looked specifically at people who had another stroke after an atherothrombotic stroke, they found that 14 out of 114 people with normal triglyceride levels, or 12%, had one during the study, compared to 33 out of 217 people, or 16%, of those with elevated levels.

For acute coronary syndrome, one out of 114 people, or 0.9%, with normal triglyceride levels developed the heart condition one year after an atherothrombotic stroke, compared to five out of 60, or 8%, of those with elevated levels.

The team notes the study did not find an association between higher triglyceride levels and future heart problems in people who had a different type of stroke called a cardioembolic stroke.

More research is needed, but for people who have had an atherothrombotic stroke, triglyceride levels may emerge as a key target for preventing future strokes and other cardiovascular problems.

Statin therapy is still an effective treatment for people with high triglyceride levels, but this study highlights how important it is to look at all the tools a person can use to lower their triglycerides, including diet modifications, exercise, and taking omega-3 fatty acids.

If you care about stroke, please read studies about a big cause of stroke, and tea could protect you from stroke and dementia.

For more information about stroke, please see recent studies that diets high in flavonoids could help reduce stroke risk, and results showing this gland problem in your neck is linked to stroke and heart attack.

The study was conducted by Takao Hoshino et al and published in Neurology.

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