Do elevated triglyceride levels increase the risk of stroke? We already know they increase the risk of heart disease, but new research shows they boost stroke risk too – one more reason to get those high triglyceride levels under control.
Elevated Triglycerides and the Risk of Stroke
Researchers at the Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark looked at almost 15,000 men and women as part of the Copenhagen City heart Study. After checking their baseline cholesterol and non-fasting triglyceride levels, they followed them for 33 years.
They found that higher non-fasting triglyceride levels were linked with a greater risk of ischemic stroke in both men and women Ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke and is most frequently caused by decreased blood flow to the brain due to a clot in an artery carrying oxygen to the brain.
How much higher was the risk with triglyceride elevations? The risk was only slightly greater in those with mild to moderate elevations (under 177 mg/dl), but it was 3.9 times higher in those with triglyceride levels of 443 mg/dl or greater.
Interestingly, higher cholesterol levels, which were also looked at in this study, were linked with a greater risk of stroke only in men.
Elevated Triglyceride Levels: What’s Normal?
Normal triglyceride levels are less than 150 mg/dl. People who are overweight or who have diabetes or cholesterol problems are more likely to have high triglyceride levels. Lifestyle habits play a role too. Drinking too much alcohol and eating a high-carbohydrate date contributes to high triglyceride levels – and some medications can elevate them too.
Triglycerides and Stroke: How Does a High Triglyceride Level Cause Stroke?
Triglycerides are a type of fat carried in the bloodstream and stored as a source of energy. When there are too many triglycerides circulating in the blood, they build up in arteries and form plaques, a condition known as atherosclerosis. If the conditions are right, one of these plaques can break loose and block blood flow through an artery leading to the brain – bringing on symptoms of a stroke. A high cholesterol level combined with an elevated triglyceride level is even more dangerous in terms of stroke risk.
The Bottom Line?
High triglyceride levels are linked with heart disease, but they also increase the risk of stroke. Know your triglyceride level, and if it’s elevated, take steps to bring it down. It could save your life.
Eurekalert.org. “Increasing Triglyceride Levels Linked to Greater Stroke Risk”