Obesity linked to high risk of stroke

A visiting University associate professor led the study.

Kyle Sando

Obesity has been found to increase the risk of having a stroke, according to a study led by a University of Minnesota professor. Obesity was found to cause ailments that increase the risk of stroke, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, Dr. Hiroshi Yatsuya said. Yatsuya is a visiting associate professor at the University and was the lead author of the study, which was published Thursday in âÄúStroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.âÄù Staying healthy and preventing obesity is a good target for people who wish to avoid a stroke in the future, Yatsuya said. The link between obesity and a higher risk of stroke isnâÄôt surprising to many people, but the study helps explain the connection. The study showed varied results across race and sex. Obese black males were the most at risk and were nearly eight times as likely to have a stroke. White women were at the lowest risk and were 2.2 times as likely to have a stroke if obese. This is because black people have higher rates of stroke already, Yatsuya said. Yatsuya said across races, the relationship between obesity and stroke is similar, and those who are obese are still at a greater risk than those who are not. The subjects of the study were middle-aged, averaging 53 years old, but the data may still be relevant for students wanting to avoid suffering a stroke in the future. In a study performed by Boynton Health Service in 2007, researchers found that over a quarter of the student body was overweight or obese. David Golden, director of marketing and public health at Boynton, said that when the researchers put together the numbers of overweight and obese students, they found that about 29 percent of those students fit that category. Yatsuya said that according to the data in his study, reducing the level of obesity in a subject does not necessarily reduce the risk of stroke. However, he didnâÄôt discount the idea entirely. âÄúItâÄôs quite reasonable to say that reducing the level of obesity does decrease the risk of stroke,âÄù Yatsuya said. That notion is currently being studied, he said, but not by him. He said any study to link a reduction in obesity to a reduction in the risk of stroke would be a long-term one. The study Yatsuya conducted was performed over almost 17 years on average per subject.