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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2011 Dec;31(12):2982-9. doi: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.111.234948. Epub 2011 Sep 15.

Serum lipid levels and the risk of intracerebral hemorrhage: the Rotterdam Study.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology, Erasmus University Medical Center, 3000 CA Rotterdam, The Netherlands.



Low serum total cholesterol levels are associated with an increased risk of symptomatic intracerebral hemorrhage and with presence of asymptomatic cerebral microbleeds. The relative contribution of lipid fractions to these associations is unclear and requires investigation. We determined whether serum HDL-cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and triglycerides are associated with risk of intracerebral hemorrhage and presence of cerebral microbleeds.


Nine thousand sixty-eight stroke-free community-dwelling persons aged ≥55 were followed from baseline (1990-2001) up to January 1, 2009, of whom 85 suffered from intracerebral hemorrhage during follow-up. Brain MRI was carried out in 789 healthy participants, of whom 162 had cerebral microbleeds. Triglycerides were strongly and inversely associated with intracerebral hemorrhage, independently of HDL-cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and potential confounders [hazard ratio for highest versus lowest quartile: 0.20 (0.06-0.69)]. Triglycerides were also associated with deep or infratentorial microbleeds [odds ratio for highest versus lowest quartile: 0.37 (0.14-0.96)], but not with strictly lobar microbleeds. No associations were found for HDL-cholesterol or LDL-cholesterol.


Low serum triglyceride levels were associated with an increased risk of intracerebral hemorrhage and with the presence of deep or infratentorial cerebral microbleeds. This provides novel insights into the role of lipid fractions, particularly triglycerides, in the etiology of intracerebral hemorrhage.

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