Inverse Association of Dietary Fat with Ischemic Stroke

The relationship of stroke to diet is not as clearly demonstrated as for coronary artery disease. For instance, total stroke is not associated with serum cholesterol, and even the weak association of ischemic stroke with cholesterol may, in part, be attributed to the relationship of cholesterol to coronary heart disease. Studies of Japanese men have shown that both total and saturated fat intake are inversely associated with all stroke mortality. The current study examined a Western population (Framingham Heart Study) of 865 men followed for 20 years, beginning in 1966-1969. Frequency of stroke and its relationship to dietary intake of fat was assessed.

During the 20-year follow-up, there were 97 TIA or stroke events. Whether looking at ischemic stroke or ischemic stroke plus TIA, there was an inverse relationship between total fat intake and measured end points. For every 3% increase in total fat intake, there was a 15% decrease in risk of ischemic stroke, unchanged by adjustment of multiple stroke risk factors.

These observations corroborate earlier studies in men of Asian origin and suggest that prevention of stroke should emphasize smoking cessation, control of hypertension and diabetes, and treatment of atrial fibrillation.

Gillman MT, et al. JAMA 1997;278: 2145-2150.