BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Leptin, important for body weight regulation, may be involved in the pathogenesis of the insulin resistance syndrome, associated with cardiovascular disease. We tested to determine whether leptin is a risk marker for first-ever stroke in a nested case-referent study.
METHODS: We identified 113 patients with first-ever stroke (94 with ischemic and 19 with hemorrhagic stroke) who, before the stroke, had participated in population-based health surveys in northern Sweden. Referents were matched for sex, age, date and type of health survey, and geographic region. Blood pressure (BP), body mass index (BMI), and presence of smoking, diabetes, and hypertension were recorded. Total cholesterol, insulin, and leptin were analyzed in stored samples. Risk markers for first-ever stroke were analyzed by conditional logistic regression analysis.
RESULTS: Patients with hemorrhagic stroke had higher levels of BMI and systolic and diastolic BPs. Leptin levels were 72% and 59% higher in males and females, respectively, with hemorrhagic stroke versus referents. Patients with ischemic stroke more often had hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and higher fasting glucose and insulin levels. A diagnosis of hypertension and elevated systolic and diastolic BPs were significant risk markers for first-ever hemorrhagic stroke in univariate analysis. High leptin (OR=20.55; 95% CI, 1.12 to 376.7) levels together with hypertension (OR=16.28; 95% CI, 1.49 to 177.3) remained as significant risk markers in a multivariate model. The combination of high leptin and high systolic or diastolic BP were associated with a profoundly increased risk for hemorrhagic stroke (OR=22.11; 95% CI, 1.57 to 310.9). Diabetes, hypertension, and obesity (BMI >/=27), together with high levels of insulin, glucose, systolic and diastolic BP, were significant risk markers for first-ever ischemic stroke in univariate analysis. Hypertension (OR=2.10; 95% CI, 1.14 to 3.86) remained as an independent risk marker in a multivariate model.
CONCLUSIONS: Plasma leptin is strongly associated with an increased risk for first-ever hemorrhagic stroke, independent of other risk markers for cardiovascular disease. Leptin may be an important link in the development of cardiovascular disease in obesity.
1999. Vol. 30, no 2, 328-337 p.