June 03, 2016
2 min read

BMI gains during childhood may increase ischemic stroke risk

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A high BMI and BMI increases during childhood are linked to an elevated risk for early ischemic stroke in men and women, according to research presented at the European Obesity Summit in Gothenburg, Sweden.

The risk for late ischemic stroke was increased in women, but not men, with gains in BMI during childhood.

“Adult BMI is associated with ischemic stroke, especially at younger ages, but the association between childhood BMI and ischemic stroke in adulthood is unclear,” Line Klingen Haugaard, MD, of the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research and the faculty of health and medical sciences at University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and colleagues wrote.

Haugaard and colleagues evaluated 307,677 Danish school children born from 1930 to 1987 with height and weight measurements at age 7, 10 or 13 years to determine whether childhood BMI and gains in BMI during childhood are linked to the risk for early and late adult ischemic stroke. National registers were evaluated to determine ischemic stroke events, which were categorized as early (aged 25-55 years) or late (older than 55 years). There were 8,128,058 person-years of follow-up.

Overall, 3,529 women and 5,370 men had an ischemic stroke. The risk for early ischemic stroke was increased in participants with a childhood BMI z score above average; there was no increased risk for late ischemic stroke.

At all ages in childhood, the pattern of the associations with early ischemic stroke were similar, but it was strongest at age 13 years, when a BMI z score of 1 was associated with an HR of 1.26 (95% CI, 1.11-1.43) in women and an HR of 1.21 (95% CI, 1.1-1.33) in men. From age 7 to 13 years, a BMI z score gain of 1 was associated with an increased risk for early ischemic stroke (women, HR = 1.26; 95% CI, 1.13-1.42; men, HR = 1.2; 95% CI, 1.09-1.32) and late ischemic stroke in women only (HR = 1.1; 95% CI, 1.03-1.17).

“The results of this study highlight the potential effects that childhood overweight and obesity [have] on the early development of atherosclerosis as well as other factors, such as hypertension and type 2 diabetes, which are risk factors for ischemic stroke,” the researchers wrote. – by Amber Cox


Haugaard LK, et al. PP2.02. Presented at: European Obesity Summit; June 1-4, 2016; Gothenburg, Sweden.

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.