A big new study published Thursday morning in the Annals of Neurology finds that among post-menopausal women, dietary intake of trans fats may raise risk of ischemic stroke — but taking aspirin may temper that effect.
Researchers looked at data from the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study for more than 87,000 generally health women ages 50 to 79 over an average of eight years. After adjusting for lifestyle factors such as smoking status and other conditions, they found that those who consumed the most trans fats — including fats in meats and dairy products, fats used in cooking, and added fats — and did not use aspirin had a 66 percent higher incidence of ischemic stroke compared to those who consumed the least trans fat. No such increase associated with trans fat intake appeared among women who used aspirin.
This study did not find an association between intake of other dietary fats (such as saturated fat and cholesterol) and ischemic stroke risk.
The authors explain that aspirin may help keep blood platelets from gathering into plaques or clots and can also reduce inflammation, which raises cardiovascular disease risk.
The American Heart Association reports that about each year about 795,000 people suffer a stroke, resulting in 137,000 deaths a year. About 60 percent of those deaths are of women. Ischemic stroke occurs when an artery leading to the brain is blocked.