Trans fats may raise stroke risk in postmenopausal women

Washington: Postmenopausal women who consume higher amounts of trans fatty acids, commonly found in baked goods, fried foods, and packaged products, are at greater risk of ischemic stroke, according to a new study.

Ischemic stroke is a result of a blockage in an artery leading to the brain. Researchers suggest aspirin use may moderate the risk.

In the largest study of stroke in postmenopausal women to date, Dr Ka He and colleagues analyzed data from the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study (WHI-OS) - a prospective cohort study of 87,025 women between the ages 50 and 79 who are generally in good health. At the time of enrollment participants were given a self-administered food frequency questionnaire and again three years later to assess their diet.

The questionnaire asked about frequency of intake and portion size for 122 goods and food groups during a 3-month period and included questions related to fat consumption from meat, dairy, cooking, and reduced fat food items.

Results show 1,049 incident cases of ischemic stroke over 663,041 person-years of follow-up. Women who had the highest trans fat intake (6.1 grams/day) had a 39 per cent greater incidence of stroke compared to those who consumed less (2.2 grams/day). Researchers found no significant associations between total fat, other types of fat, or dietary cholesterol. Aspirin use was shown to reduce the association between trans fat intake and stroke.

Additionally, researchers determined that of the ischemic stroke cases, there were 101 atherotherombotic, 234

cardioembolic and 269 lacunar infarctions, with another 445 unspecified cases that were not included in the subtype analysis. After adjusting for clinical, lifestyle and dietary factors results showed trans fat intake was associated with a higher risk of lacunar infarction.

“Our findings confirm that postmenopausal women with higher trans fat intake had an elevated risk of ischemic stroke, but aspirin use may reduce the adverse effects.

“We recommend following a diet low in trans fat and adding an aspirin regimen to help women reduce their risk of stroke, specifically following the onset of menopause,” said Dr He.

Study findings were published in the journal Annals of Neurology.


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