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Stroke. 1994 Apr;25(4):814-20.

Elevated serum cholesterol is a risk factor for both coronary heart disease and thromboembolic stroke in Hawaiian Japanese men. Implications of shared risk.

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  • 1Honolulu Heart Program, HI 96817.



The relation between total serum cholesterol level and thromboembolic or nonhemorrhagic stroke is controversial. The Honolulu Heart Program cohort of Japanese-American men provides data which show that elevated serum cholesterol is an independent predictor of thromboembolic stroke as well as coronary heart disease (CHD). The data are presented to suggest that the association of elevated cholesterol with stroke is sometimes underestimated or underreported partly because of competing or shared risk with CHD, the other major atherosclerotic end point.


The data are based on 6352 men (aged 51 to 74 years) at baseline examination (1971 to 1974) who were free of clinical CHD and stroke and were followed an average of 15 years for new cases of both end points. Relative risks of serum cholesterol for CHD and thromboembolic stroke were calculated, controlling for other major cardiovascular covariates.


There was a continuous and progressive increase in both CHD and thromboembolic stroke rates with increasing levels of serum cholesterol. The relative risk between the highest and lowest quartiles of serum cholesterol was 1.7 (95% confidence interval, 1.4 to 2.0) for CHD and 1.4 (95% confidence interval, 1.1 to 1.9) for thromboembolic stroke. There was a decline in the difference in relative risks between CHD and thromboembolic stroke in older men (aged 60 years and older) compared with younger men (aged younger than 60 years).


These data provide additional evidence that elevated serum cholesterol should be considered a primary risk factor for thromboembolic stroke, presumably through its effect on both coronary and cerebrovascular atherosclerosis. It is suggested that this association is sometimes underestimated or underreported partly because of shared or competing risk with CHD, the clinical manifestation of atherosclerosis that generally occurs earlier in life and with greater frequency than thromboembolic stroke.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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