Obesity is known to be associated with several health hazards, but this norm has recently been contradicted by new research that reveals that being overweight, obese or even severely obese may improve a person’s chances of surviving after a stroke.
The finding was presented at an annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology. According to the research, patients suffering from severe obesity were 62 percent less likely to die in the first three months after a stroke, compared to those of normal weight. In contrast, those underweight were 67 percent more likely to die in the first three months following a stroke.
According to Dr. Zuolu Liu, a stroke fellow in the department of neurology at The University of California, Los Angeles, the reason could be linked to the amount of energy stored in the fat cells.
“If you are underweight you might not have the energy reserve to go through physical and occupational therapy,” he said.
He said it is also possible that many of the thinner patients had a different — more serious — kind of ischemic stroke than the severely obese ones.
The study was conducted on 1,033 people with an average age BMI of 71 who have had an ischemic stroke, which occurs when the blood flow to a part of brain is restricted.
The study said that in the three months following a stroke, patients who were severely obese were 62 percent less likely to die compared to those of normal weight; patients who were obese were 46 percent less likely to die and those who were overweight were 15 percent less likely to die. People who were underweight were 67 percent more likely to die, compared to those who were normal weight.
Experts =said that while it is possible that obesity might be protective against death following a stroke, it is also possible that being obese or being underweight in this study are simply a marker for something else.
Dr. Ashutosh Jadhav, an Indian-origin associate professor of neurology and neurosurgery and director of the stroke institute at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, said that fat tissues can help when a person undergoes a rigorous program of rehab.