Vegetarian Diet Increases Stroke Risk but the Effect is Not Mediated by Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is an important cause of haemorrhagic stroke. A recent cohort study of over 48,000 previously healthy participants compared outcomes in meat eaters, eaters of fish but not meat, and vegetarians. The study reported in BMJ replicates a high incidence of heart disease in the meat eaters amounting to about an extra 10 cases per 1000 people per 10 years. But the risk of stroke was higher in the vegetarians, particularly haemorrhagic stroke. This replicated findings from Japan. The risk of haemorrhagic stroke increased after adjusting for blood pressure so the mechanism likely resides elsewhere. A number of nutrients are consistently lower in vegetarians than those who eat meat. The authors think this may give a clue.
Richard Lilford, ARC WM Director
- Tong TYN, Appleby PN, Bradbury KE, et al. Risks of ischaemic heart disease and stroke in meat eaters, fish eaters, and vegetarians over 18 years of followup: results from the prospective EPIC-Oxford study. BMJ. 2019; 366: I4897.