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Mediterranean diet linked to fewer strokes.


NASHVILLE, TENN. -- A diet that at least partially resembled the Mediterranean diet appeared to forestall a significant number of strokes in a retrospective, epidemiologic study of more than 100.000 Californian women.

"Greater adherence to a Mediterranean diet pattern was associated with a 10%-18% reduced risk of total and ischemic stroke," Dr. Ayesha Z. Sherzai said at the conference.

"Our finding emphasizes the importance of addressing diet as an important, modifiable risk factor for stroke," said Dr. Sherzai, a neurologist at Columbia University in New York.


Although Dr. Sherzai's findings involved only women, "I believe that most of the reported data show that a Mediterranean diet protects against stroke in men as well as in women," Dr. Ralph L. Sacco, professor and chairman of neurology at the University of Miami, said in a video statement provided by the American Heart Association, which sponsored the conference.


Dr. Sherzai and her associates used data from the California Teachers Study, which followed more than 130.000 women who worked as teachers or school administrators in the state during 1995. Their analysis focused on 104,268 of these women with complete data for the diet and stroke analysis and who remained California residents. Data on incident ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes came from California's hospital-discharge database for 1996-2011, during which time the 104,268 women had 2,270 incident ischemic strokes and 895 incident hemorrhagic strokes.

The researchers obtained baseline diet data from a food frequency questionnaire completed at enrollment in 1995. They rated each person's diet by its resemblance to the Mediterranean diet by way of a validated, 10-point scale first reported in 2003 (N. Engl. J. Med. 2003:348:2599-608). They divided the women into five subgroups based on the extent to which their reported diet resembled a classic Mediterranean diet. Those who scored 0-2 were least adherent (16% of the studied population); those who scored 6-9 were most adherent (24%). Remaining women in the study included 18% with a score of 3, 21% who scored 4, and 20% who scored 5 (total equals 99% because of rounding). The Mediterranean diet is plant based, with high reliance on unrefined cereals, fruits, vegetables, and monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, with low consumption of meat, sugar/sweeteners, and saturated fat, Dr. Sherzai said.

In an analysis that adjusted for sociodemographic and clinical variables, women with a diet score of 6-9 has a statistically significant 17% reduced rate of all strokes, compared with women with a score of 0-2. Women with a diet score of 5 had significantly fewer strokes, at a rate 12% below that of the women who scored 0-2.

For ischemic stroke only, women who scored 6-9 had 18% fewer strokes than did women who scored 0-2, those who scored a 5 had 15% fewer strokes, and those whose diet scored a 4 had 16% fewer strokes than the comparator group, statistically significant differences.

For hemorrhagic stroke, none of the subgroups showed a statistically significant difference relative to those who scored 0-2. But women scoring 6-9 had 18% fewer strokes and those who scored 5 had 12% fewer strokes.

On Twitter @mitchelzoler

Caption: DR. SHERZAI

Caption: DR. SACCO
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Author:Zoler, Mitchel L.
Publication:Internal Medicine News
Date:Mar 15, 2015
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