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Ischemic Stroke In Women Linked To Fat Intake


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By Margarita Nahapetyan

A new research suggests that women older than 50 years who consume a lot of fat, especially the type that is present in processed food, crackers, stick margarine, pastries and fried food, highly increase their chances of developing ischemic stroke.

The study researchers at University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill have come to the conclusion that those women who had the highest daily intake of dietary fat were 44 per cent more likely to have ischemic stroke when compared to those women who ate less fat. Ischemic stroke is a stroke that is caused by blockages in the blood vessels that are located in the brain or lead to the brain.

It is believed that women have a reduced risk of having stroke before they go through menopause, but after menopause occurs they are at the same risk as men for developing strokes. For the purposes of their new study, the experts analyzed data that was collected from 87,230 postmenopausal women with the ages between 50 and 79 years, who took part in the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) Observational Study. All women were asked to fill out a food frequency questionnaire at the beginning of the study and were followed then for an average of 7.6 years, the researchers said. During that period of time, 1,049 ischemic strokes occurred.

Scientists assigned the women into quartiles based on the amount of total dietary fat and types of fat (saturated fat, mono-unsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat and trans fat) they reported consuming on a daily basis. Researchers took into consideration factors, such as women's age, ethnicity, smoking habits, physical activity, alcohol or drug use, BMI (body mass index), hormone therapy, history of heart disease, diabetes, systolic blood pressure and whether the women were taking medication for high blood pressure or to reduce cholesterol, vitamin E supplementation, fruit and vegetable consumption, total calories and dietary fiber.

The results revealed that the women in the top quartile for total fat consumption had an average intake of 86 grams of total fat a day when compared to 26 grams of total fat per day for women in the lowest quartile. In the study, researchers considered intake of 7 grams of trans fat per day as the highest intake, whereas intake of 1 gram of trans fat per day was considered as lowest.

The new study is the largest to examine a risk of stroke in women and across all types of fat. It demonstrated a clear trend: women who consumed the most fat had nearly 45 per cent higher risk of the most common type of stroke when compared to women who ate the least.

According to the Harvard epidemiologists and nutritionists, each year an estimated 100,000 deaths from heart disease in the United States are associated with trans fat intake. Federal health statistics show that, on average, American women in their 50s and 60s consume between 63 and 68 grams of fat on a daily basis. The American Heart Association strongly recommends that the intake of fat is limited to less than 25 to 35 per cent of total calories, and the intake of trans fat to less than 1 per cent. The healthiest fats come from nuts, seeds, fish and vegetable oils.

The findings were presented last week at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2010.

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