Previous studies have found a strong link between elevated levels of nonfasting triglycerides, which indicate the presence of remnant (a small portion that remains) lipoproteins, and increased risk of ischemic heart disease.
"It is therefore possible that nonfasting triglyceride levels are also associated with increased risk of ischemic stroke," the authors said.
"Triglyceride levels are usually measured after an 8- to 12-hour fast, thus excluding most remnant lipoproteins; however, except for a few hours before breakfast, most individuals are in the nonfasting state most of the time.
"Therefore, by mainly studying fasting rather than nonfasting triglyceride levels, several previous studies may have missed an association between triglycerides and ischemic stroke," they added.
Jacob J. Freiberg, M.D., of Copenhagen University Hospitals, Denmark, and colleagues conducted a study to determine if increased levels of nonfasting triglycerides are associated with risk of ischemic stroke.
The Copenhagen City Heart Study, a Danish population-based study initiated in 1976 with follow-up through July 2007, included 13,956 men and women age 20 through 93 years.
Participants had their nonfasting triglyceride levels measured at the beginning of the study and at follow-up examinations.
Of the 13,956 participants in the study, 1,529 developed ischemic stroke. The researchers found that the cumulative incidence of ischemic stroke increased with increasing levels of nonfasting triglycerides.
"By using levels of nonfasting rather than fasting triglycerides and by having more statistical power than any previous study, we detected a previously unnoticed association between linear increases in levels of nonfasting triglycerides and stepwise increases in risk of ischemic stroke ...", the authors said.
The study is published in the November 12 issue of JAMA.