Traditional risk factors for stroke—such as high cholesterol—are not as accurate at predicting risk in postmenopausal women as previously thought, according to a new study. Instead, researchers from the NYU Langone Medical Center said doctors should refocus their attention on triglyceride levels to determine which women are at the highest risk of suffering a devastating and potentially fatal cardiovascular event.
High triglyceride levels were significantly associated with ischemic stroke, which accounts for more than 80 percent of strokes. They occur when blood clots obstruct blood vessels to the brain. Women in the highest quartile of baseline triglyceride levels were nearly twice as likely to have suffered an ischemic stroke in the course of the 15-year study as those in the lowest quartile of triglyceride levels. Surprisingly, higher LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol were not linked to stroke risk in this group of women.
The Mayo Clinic suggests these strategies for reducing triglycerides: lose weight, avoid sugary and refined foods, choose healthy fats (such as olive, peanut, and canola oils), eliminate trans fats from your diet, limit alcohol intake, and exercise regularly.