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High cholesterol increases stroke risk in women

20th February 2007

Healthy women with high cholesterol face an increased risk of stroke even if they have no history of heart disease or stroke, according to new research.

The study, published in the American Academy of Neurology, was based on 27,000 women aged 45-and-over from the US and Puerto Rico.

Researchers took cholesterol levels into account and examined the women, who had no history of major illnesses such as heart disease or cancer, over 11 years.

During this time, 282 strokes occurred accounting for nine out or 10,000 each year.

"Our findings show otherwise healthy women with high cholesterol were more than twice as likely to suffer a stroke compared to healthy women with lower cholesterol levels," said study author Tobias Kurth.

"Our data strongly supports the notion that cholesterol levels are a biologic risk factor for stroke and that avoiding unfavourable cholesterol levels may help prevent stroke."

The researchers acknowledged the limitations to the study, including that cholesterol levels were only measured once and that it was based on mostly white health professionals.