Researchers have developed an online calculator that can help doctors predict patients' risk for ischemic stroke based on the severity of their metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a conglomeration of conditions that include high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels and excess body fat around the abdomen and waist.
The study, published in the journal Stroke found that stroke risk increased consistently with metabolic syndrome severity even in patients without diabetes. Doctors can use this information - and a scoring tool developed by researchers to identify patients at risk and help them reduce that risk.
"We had previously shown that the severity of metabolic syndrome was linked to future coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes and this study showed further links to future ischemic strokes," said study author Mark DeBoer from the University of Florida in the US.
Examining the Severity of Metabolic Syndrome
The research team developed the scoring tool, an online calculator to assess the severity of the metabolic syndrome. To evaluate the association between ischemic stroke and metabolic syndrome, the research team reviewed more than 13,000 participants in prior studies and their stroke outcomes.
Among that group, there were 709 ischemic strokes over a mean period of 18.6 years assessed in the studies. The researchers used their tool to calculate "Z scores" measuring the severity of metabolic syndrome among the study participants. They could then analyze the association between metabolic syndrome and ischemic stroke risk.
The researchers found that the subgroup with the highest association between metabolic syndrome and risk for ischemic stroke was white women. In this group, the research team was able to identify relationships between the individual contributors to metabolic syndromes, such as high blood pressure, and stroke risk.
Gender Not a Significant Factor
The researchers noted that race and sex did not seem to make a major difference in stroke risk overall, and they caution that the increased risk seen in white women could be the result of chance alone. The overall relationship between metabolic syndrome severity and stroke risk was clear.
"And this suggests people with metabolic syndrome can make lifestyle changes to reduce that risk. Losing weight, exercising more, choosing healthy foods - all can help address metabolic syndrome and its harmful effects," the researcher wrote. The research team hopes that this tool will help doctors guide patients as they seek to reduce their stroke risk and improve their health and well-being.