Image of Mark DeBoer, M.D.

The more severe the complications of metabolic syndrome, the more likely a person is to experience ischemic stroke — even in the absence of diabetes, a new study has found. 

The researchers used health and stroke data from 13,000 study participants, plugging it into a diagnostic tool that they had originally created to predict coronary heart disease and diabetes. The relationship between metabolic syndrome severity and stroke risk was clear, reported Mark DeBoer, M.D., of University of Virginia Health System.

“Individuals with elevated metabolic syndrome severity should be counselled toward lifestyle modification to lower ischemic stroke risk,”  he wrote.

To calculate risk and the need for preventive measures, clinicians can freely access the online MetS Calc tool developed by DeBoer and Matthew J. Gurka, Ph.D., of the University of Florida, Gainesville.

“In case there are still individuals out there debating whether to start exercising or eating a healthier diet, this study provides another wake-up call to motivate us all toward lifestyle changes,” DeBoer concluded.

Ischemic stroke (the most common type) is caused by a blood clot in the brain. Metabolic syndrome is a set of conditions that includes high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels and excess body fat around the abdomen and waist.

Full findings were published in the August issue of Stroke, a journal of the American Heart Association.