THURSDAY, Jan. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Obesity increases the risk of stroke independently of race and gender, although the risk appears to be largely explained by associated hypertension and diabetes, according to a study published online Jan. 21 in Stroke.
Hiroshi Yatsuya, M.D., of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and colleagues analyzed the risk of ischemic stroke based on race, gender, and measures of obesity in 13,549 African-American and Caucasian individuals aged 45 to 65 years.
The researchers found that the crude incidence of ischemic stroke varied more than three-fold by race and gender, ranging from 1.2 per 1,000 person-years in Caucasian women with the lowest body mass index to 8.0 per 1,000 person-years in African-American men with the highest body mass index. Regardless of race or gender, after adjusting for confounding factors, obesity (as determined by body mass index, waist circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio) was associated with a higher risk of stroke (hazard ratio, 1.43 to 3.19). Further adjusting for factors such as hypertension and diabetes significantly attenuated the association.
"Degree of obesity, defined by body mass index, waist circumference, or waist-to-hip ratio, was a significant risk factor for ischemic stroke regardless of sex or race," the authors conclude.