Sunday, February 27, 2011

High Triglycerides and Your Stroke Risk

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death globally — responsible for an estimated 17.1 million deaths worldwide ( 2004), with 5.7 million due to stroke.

Ischaemic stroke occurs when the supply of blood to the brain is obstructed. The obstruction or blockage is typically caused by the build-up of fatty deposits inside blood vessels (atherosclerosis).

Current guidelines on stroke prevention have recommendations on desirable cholesterol levels, but not on nonfasting triglycerides.

The link between high cholesterol and stroke has never actually been proven, yet giving people the cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins seems to lower their stroke risk. But statins also lower triglyceride levels, suggesting that this might be the mechanism at play.

Medical evidence suggests that elevated non-fasting triglycerides are markers of elevated levels of atherogenic lipoprotein remnants [very low density lipoproteins and intermediate density lipoproteins, or bad cholesterol]

A study by researchers in Denmark revealed that increasing levels of non-fasting triglycerides are associated with an increased risk of ischaemic stroke in men and women.

The study led by Marianne Benn looked at 7,579 women and 6,372 men, all white, with measurements of nonfasting triglycerides and cholesterol at baseline in 1976–1978 who were then followed for up to 33 years. During that time, 837 women and 837 men developed ischemic stroke during follow-up, which was 100% complete.

For both men and women, stepwise increasing levels of nonfasting triglycerides were associated with increased risk of ischaemic stroke, even after adjusting for age, gender, smoking, alcohol use, lipid-lowering therapy, hormone therapy (in women) and other factors.

Increased cholesterol was not linked to an increased risk of stroke in women, though it was in men whose cholesterol was 9.00 mmol/L [34 8 mg/dL]or higher.

Based on the findings of this latest study, the authors recommend desirable levels of triglycerides at below 2.00 to 2.24 mmol/L [180 to 200 mg/dL]

You should attempt to reach this goal through lifestyle changes that include weight loss, reduction of intake of saturated fatty acids, cholesterol, and alcohol, more exercise, and cessation of smoking.

If triglyceride levels are still above 2.24mmol/L [200 mg/dL] after three months your doctor may prescribe lipid-lowering medication like statins, fibrates, and niacin.


Anette Varbo, Børge G. Nordestgaard, Anne Tybjærg-Hansen, Peter Schnohr, Gorm B. Jensen, and Marianne Benn. Non-fasting Triglycerides, Cholesterol and Stroke in the General Population. Annals of Neurology; Published Online: February 21, 2011. CLICK HERE for the abstract.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Triglycerides

Omega-3 fatty acids decrease triglyceride levels, slow growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque, and lower blood pressure (slightly).

Source: American Heart Association

Approximately 1 g per day of eicosapentaenoic acid plus docosahexaenoic acid is recommended for cardioprotection*. Higher dosages of omega-3 fatty acids are required to reduce elevated triglyceride levels (2 to 4 g per day) and to reduce morning stiffness and the number of tender joints in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (at least 3 g per day). Modest decreases in blood pressure occur with significantly higher dosages of omega-3 fatty acids.


Covington MB. Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Am Fam Physician. 2004 1;70(1):133-140.

* equivalent to two capsules of Abbott’s molecularly distilled “Bio-Enhanced Fish Oil Plus”, CLICK HERE for more information.

See our other posts on Omega-3

Statins and Omega-3

The Fish Oil - Styrofoam Battles

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