What is Stroke?
A stroke (also called “brain attack”) involves potentially life-threatening damage to the brain caused by interruption to its blood supply. Most strokes are caused by cerebral thrombosis (blood clot in a brain artery), cerebral embolism or cerebral hemorrhage (bleeding).
Atherosclerosis, Obesity and Stroke
Atherosclerosis, or narrowing of the arteries, which may lead to the formation of an arterial blood clot, is an important pre-condition of many strokes. Atherosclerosis is accelerated by high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol and lack of exercise. Obesity, especially morbid obesity is frequently associated with a high-fat diet, raised blood pressure and lack of exercise. Thus obesity is now considered an important secondary risk factor for strokes.
Effect of Obesity on Risk of Stroke
Elevated body mass index (BMI) is reported to increase the risk of ischemic stroke independent of other risk factors including age and systolic blood pressure. For example, according to a recent long-term study, obesity in middle-aged men can have a significant impact on stroke risk later in life. The extended follow-up period made it possible to show a link between obesity in middle age and an increased stroke risk later in life.
Morbid Obesity and Stroke
Weight-related health dangers increase with increased weight. Therefore patients with morbid or malignant obesity are at even higher risk of adverse cardiovascular events like stroke and heart attack.
Risk of Stroke For Obese Men and Women
Obesity appears to be a risk factor for strokes in both men and women. Abdominal obesity appears to predict the risk of stroke in men, while obesity and weight gain are risk factors for ischemic and total stroke in women.
Study Into Relationship of BMI to Risk of Stroke
Swedish health researchers monitored 7,402 healthy men aged 47-55, for 28 years. Fatal and non-fatal incidences of stroke were recorded by using the Swedish National Register on Cause of Death and the Swedish Hospital Discharge Registry. According to the results of the health study, 873 first strokes were recorded. Men who started the study with a body mass index of between 20 and 22.49 were significantly less likely to suffer a stroke than those who started with a BMI of more than 30. However, no significant association was found between BMI and risk for strokes caused by cerebral hemorrhage.