High cholesterol elevates women's risk of stroke death

DALLAS, July 12 Elevated cholesterol is a risk factor for stroke death in younger women, particularly African-American women with no history of cardiovascular disease, according to a large, long-term analysis in the July issue of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

"Most prior research has had too few women, especially minority women, to firmly establish the relationship between cholesterol and stroke mortality," says Lori Mosca, M.D., Ph.D., senior author and associate professor of medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons in New York.

The results also confirmed the importance of the traditional risk factors for stroke death including high blood pressure and diabetes. Early studies of risk factors for stroke death showed inconsistent associations between cholesterol and stroke death. Recently, studies in patients with known cardiovascular disease have shown that treatment with cholesterol-lowering drugs reduced the risk of stroke death. Reflecting the recent findings, the American Heart Association last year cited cholesterol as a stroke risk factor in a scientific statement on stroke prevention.

Researchers followed participants in eight large, long-term prospective studies that formed The Women's Pooling Project (WPP). They evaluated stroke risk factors in 24,343 women with no history of heart attack, coronary chest pain, or stroke. They were 30-97-years old (average 52) at the time of enrollment, with 17.4 percent African-Americans, and 4.9 percent Hispanic. The women were followed for a total of 339,215 patient-years (the number of women times the number of years they were each followed). Some patients were followed for 20 years or longer.

A total of 568 stroke-related deaths occurred during follow-up, representing about 10 percent of all deaths. Consistent with other stroke studies, researchers found that more than 80 percent of the stroke deaths (461) were associated with s

Contact: Bridgette Mc Neill
American Heart Association

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