June 29 (UPI) -- A new study by Boston University researchers suggests that although obesity raises the risk of stroke, overweight or mildly obese people survive strokes at higher rates.
Strokes make up the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, with about 185,000 people dying from a stroke each year.
Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine followed participants from the Framingham Heart Study, or FHS, evaluating body mass index before strokes and compared those participants with others of similar age, sex and BMI category.
"We found that participants who were overweight or mildly obese had better survival after stroke than normal weight participants and the survival benefit was strongest in males or in those younger than age 70," said Hugo J. Aparicio, assistant professor of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine and FHS investigator, in a press release.
Researchers point out that having the extra metabolic reserve from obesity following a severe disease may be attributed to their findings.
"Nonetheless, observing this so-called 'obesity paradox' has important clinical implications and it is essential for clinicians and researchers to better understand the role of body weight in recovery after stroke so that they can make proper recommendations on weight loss or weight maintenance," Aparicio said.
A previous study linked obesity in adolescence with an increased risk of stroke later in life.