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Stroke. 2008 Dec;39(12):3145-51. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.108.523001. Epub 2008 Aug 14.

Contribution of obesity and abdominal fat mass to risk of stroke and transient ischemic attacks.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Klinikum Mannheim, University of Heidelberg, Germany.



Waist circumference has been shown to be a better predictor of cardiovascular risk than body mass index (BMI). Our case-control study aimed to evaluate the contribution of obesity and abdominal fat mass to the risk of stroke and transient ischemic attacks (TIA).


We recruited 1137 participants: 379 cases with stroke/TIA and 758 regional controls matched for age and sex. Associations between different markers of obesity (BMI, waist-to-hip ratio, waist circumference and waist-to-stature ratio) and risk of stroke/TIA were assessed by using conditional logistic regression adjusted for other risk factors.


BMI showed a positive association with cerebrovascular risk which became nonsignificant after adjustment for physical inactivity, smoking, hypertension, and diabetes (odds ratio 1.18; 95% CI, 0.77 to 1.79, top tertile versus bottom tertile). Markers of abdominal adiposity were strongly associated with the risk of stroke/TIA. For the waist-to-hip ratio, adjusted odds ratios for every successive tertile were greater than that of the previous one (2nd tertile: 2.78, 1.57 to 4.91; 3rd tertile: 7.69, 4.53 to 13.03). Significant associations with the risk of stroke/TIA were also found for waist circumference and waist-to-stature ratio (odds ratio 4.25, 2.65 to 6.84 and odds ratio 4.67, 2.82 to 7.73, top versus bottom tertile after risk adjustment, respectively).


Markers of abdominal adiposity showed a graded and significant association with risk of stroke/TIA, independent of other vascular risk factors. Waist circumference and related ratios can better predict cerebrovascular events than BMI.

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