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Clinical Summary

Adiposity and the Risk of Major Stroke Types


  • Body mass index (BMI) was associated with a lower risk of intracerebral and subarachnoid haemorrhage but not with the risk of ischaemic stroke.
  • Waist circumference was associated with an increased risk of ischaemic stroke and intracerebral haemorrhage but not with the risk of subarachnoid haemorrhage.

Why This Matters

  • Findings highlight the significance of considering body fat distribution when assessing stroke risk.

Study Design

  • A large prospective cohort study of 490,071 participants (age 40-69 years) without stroke, identified from the UK Biobank (2006-2010).
  • Funding: Core grants to Clinical Trial Service Unit from the Medical Research Council and others.

Key Results

  • During a median follow-up of 12 years, 7117, 1391, and 834 events of incident ischaemic strokes, intracerebral haemorrhages, and subarachnoid haemorrhages, respectively, were reported.
  • BMI was associated with a lower risk of (adjusted HR [aHR] per 5-unit higher BMI; 95% CI):
    • intracerebral haemorrhage (0.85; 0.74 to 0.96); and
    • subarachnoid haemorrhage (0.82; 0.69 to 0.96).
  • There was no association between BMI and the ischaemic stroke risk (aHR per 5-unit higher BMI 1.04; 95% CI 0.97 to 1.11).
  • Waist circumference was associated with a higher risk of (aHR per 10-cm higher waist circumference; 95% CI):
    • intracerebral haemorrhage (1.17; 1.05 to 1.30); and
    • ischaemic stroke (1.19; 1.13 to 1.25).
  • No association was observed between waist circumference and subarachnoid haemorrhage risk (aHR per 10-cm higher waist circumference 1.07; 95% CI 0.93 to 1.22).


  • Observational design.
  • Risk of residual confounding.