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European Society of Cardiology

Clinical Articles, News & Views

Young obese women could reduce their stroke risk

There are many practical steps which young obese women could take to reduced their stroke risk, according to research1 presented at ESC Congress 2013.

The research found that in young women without metabolic disorders, being overweight or obese did not increase the chance of having a stroke compared to normal weight women without metabolic disorders. But the risk of stroke increased by 3.5 times in women who were overweight or obese and had metabolic disorders.

Study author, Dr Michelle Schmiegelow from Denmark, said: “Obesity puts young women at a major risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol, which dramatically increases their likelihood of having a stroke. Young women who are overweight or obese probably have a window of opportunity to lose weight and keep a healthy lifestyle so that they reduce their risk of getting high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. In this way they can protect themselves from having a stroke or heart attack.”

ESC spokesperson Professor Joep Perk said: “Women are at the same risk of stroke as men, and the level of risk is completely steered by the underlying risk factor pattern they have. The majority of people who have a stroke are disabled for the rest of their lives and may be paralysed or lose their ability to speak. The devastating consequences of this disease for patients and their loved ones make prevention even more important.”

He added: “Prevention for all cardiovascular disease follows the same pattern, be it stroke, heart attack, or peripheral arterial disease. Step one for women is absolutely to stop smoking – that beats everything. The second most important thing is to know your blood pressure to see if you are at risk. And finally, adopt healthy behaviours like eating heart healthy food and keeping the amount of salt you eat under control.”

The global campaign against stroke asks people to commit to six stroke challenges:

•    Know your personal risk factors: high blood pressure, diabetes, and high blood cholesterol

•    Be physically active and exercise regularly

•    Maintain a healthy diet high in fruit and vegetable and low in salt and keep blood pressure low

•    Limit alcohol consumption

•    Avoid cigarette smoke. If you smoke, seek help to stop now

•    Learn to recognise the warning signs of a stroke and how to take action.


1. ESC Congress 2013 abstract 2659: Associations between being obese but metabolically healthy and risk of myocardial infarction, stroke and mortality – a nationwide study of fertile women

Published on: October 30, 2013

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