Stroke Risk Prediction for Women

Protein level can predict risk of stroke for postmenopausal women

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Certain factors have been traditionally used for predicting the risk for stroke, such as high cholesterol. But these factors may not be very accurate in predicting stroke risk for postmenopausal women.

The tools that doctors have been using for years may actually have little to no predictive value in older women. But the levels of a lipoprotein called triglyceride seem to predict the risk of stroke more accurately.

"Women past menopause should ask about risk of stroke."

Jeffrey S. Berger, MD, of NYU Langone Medical Center conducted a study which found that high cholesterol is not as accurate at predicting the risk of stroke for older women as was previously thought.

Nearly 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke each year, and more than eight out of ten of them are a variety called ischemic strokes. They occur when blood clots develop due to high cholesterol, which is made up of several lipoproteins.

Triglycerides are one of these lipoproteins, and their levels have taken on a new significance as the most accurate predictor of stroke risk for women past menopause. Berger and colleagues analyzed data from the Hormones and Biomarkers Predicting Stroke (HaBPS) study, which monitored the health of more than 90,000 postmenopausal women around the U.S. for over 15 years.

Of those women, the first 972 who experienced an ischemic stroke while participating in the study were matched with a control group of 972 women who had not had a stroke. Blood samples from all the women were analyzed for differences in lipoprotein.

The most compelling finding was that high triglyceride levels were significantly associated with the development of stroke in the women, and those with the highest baseline levels of triglyceride were nearly twice as likely to have suffered a stroke. Researchers were surprised that cholesterol levels were not associated with stroke risk.

“Every year, hundreds of thousands of people are affected by stroke and there is a tremendous emphasis on identifying people at increased risk,” said Dr. Berger. “This study revealed that what we’ve been using to evaluate risk all these years actually has little to no predictive value in older women.

Results were published in the February 2012 issue of the journal Stroke.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 5, 2012
Last Updated:
February 6, 2012