Irregular evening meal times could increase stroke risk, study warns

By Hiyah Zaidi
Monday, 16th May 2022, 10:55 am
A person with suspected stroke may have sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes (Photo: Adobe)
A person with suspected stroke may have sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes (Photo: Adobe)

Eating meals at irregular times on an evening could increase the risk of suffering a stroke, new research suggests.

A recent study, published in the journal Nutrients, examined the link between supper timing and risks of mortality from stroke, coronary heart disease, and total cardiovascular diseases.

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What did researchers find?

The study assessed 28,625 males and 43,213 females, aged 40 to 79 years, free from cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancers at baseline.

Participants were categorised into three groups:

- the early supper group (before 8pm)- the irregular supper group (time irregular)- the late supper group (after 8pm)

Data was gathered through a dietary assessment questionnaire and compared with mortality data on each participant.

Researchers found that those who consumed their evening meal at irregular times had an increased risk of haemorrhagic stroke mortality, which occurs when a blood vessel inside the skull bursts and bleeds into and around the brain.

There was no significant association found between supper timing and the risk of mortality from other types of stroke, such as an ischaemic stroke, and no evidence to suggest a link between meal timing and coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease risk.

The researchers wrote: “We found that adopting an irregular supper timing compared with having dinner before 8:00 pm was associated with an increased risk of haemorrhagic stroke mortality.”

“To the best of our knowledge, our study is the first to investigate the association between supper timing and the risk of cardiovascular mortality.

“In this large population-based prospective cohort study, after adjusting for CVD risk factors, irregular supper timing was associated with an increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke mortality compared with early supper consumers.”

They added that they found positive associations between irregular supper timing and the risk of total stroke, haemorrhagic stroke, and total CVD mortality among subjects with a body mass index (BMI) of 23-24.9.

What BMI is a healthy weight?

The most widely used method to check if you are a healthy weight is BMI. For most adults, a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 means you are a healthy weight, according to the NHS. Those who have a BMI of 25 to 29.9 means you are overweight.

The NHS warns that the main cause of haemorrhagic stroke is high blood pressure, which can weaken the arteries in the brain and make them more likely to split or rupture. Factors that increase the risk of high blood pressure include:

- Being overweight- Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol- Smoking- A lack of exercise- Stress

The NHS adds: “Haemorrhagic strokes can also be caused by the rupture of a balloon-like expansion of a blood vessel (brain aneurysm) or abnormally formed blood vessels in the brain.”

What are the symptoms of a stroke?

The main symptoms of stroke can be remembered with the word FAST:

Face – the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have dropped

Arms – the person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in one arm

Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake. They may also have problems understanding what you are saying to them.

Time – it is time to dial 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms

The sooner a person receives treatment for a stroke, the less damage is likely to happen.