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High Triglyceride Levels Linked to Increased Stroke Risk: Study
Date:2/22/2011

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Feb. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Men and women with high triglyceride levels are at an increased risk of ischemic stroke, which typically occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked by a build-up of fatty deposits within blood vessels, a new Danish study contends.

In fact, this stroke risk seems to be more pronounced for triglyceride fats than it is for cholesterol, even though cholesterol is currently the prime focus of current guidelines. These findings, the researchers said, suggest that triglyceride levels should be incorporated into stroke-prevention guidelines.

"There might be an association between elevated triglyceride levels and increased stroke risk," said Dr. Tara Narula, a cardiologist with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "All the guidelines really just focus on total cholesterol and LDL [low-density lipoprotein] cholesterol, and not on non-fasting triglycerides."

The link between high cholesterol and stroke has never actually been proven, yet giving people the cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins seems to lower their stroke risk. But statins also lower triglyceride levels, suggesting that this might be the mechanism at play.

High triglyceride levels may indicate the presence of fat particles similar to "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which can also contribute to the build-up of plaque in arterial walls.

"Triglycerides are associated with atherosclerosis; however, triglycerides in themselves are not causal in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis," explained Dr. Marianne Benn, senior author of the study, which appears in the Feb. 21 online issue of the Annals of Neurology. "They are a marker of high levels of atherogenic lipoprotein remnants [very low density lipoproteins and intermediate density lipoproteins]."

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American St
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