Women at the age of 55 are at a higher risk of stroke if they were overweight during their teenage or young adult years, a study revealed.

The researchers found that having excess body weight at age 14 or 31 raises the risk of ischemic stroke in women by the age of 55. However, the same risk was not seen in men, according to the study published in the American Stroke Association's peer-reviewed journal Stroke.

Ischemic stroke is the most common form of stroke and occurs when the blood vessel to the brain gets obstructed by a clot.

For the study, the researchers reviewed long-term data from 10,491 participants in their 50s who were part of the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966. The participants were evaluated for their BMI and ratio of weight to height at the ages of 14 and 31.

The researchers made some interesting findings. After an average follow-up period of around 39 years, about 1 in 20 participants had a clot-caused ischemic stroke or a mini-stroke. They noted that women who were overweight at age 14 were at a higher risk of developing clot-caused stroke risk even if they lost weight by 31. At the same time, women who were overweight at age 31 also had a higher ischemic stroke risk even if they had normal weight at age 14.

While obesity at age 14 was linked to 87% more risk of ischemic stroke or mini-stroke, obesity at age 31 was associated with 167% higher risk of stroke compared to those with normal weight.

"Women with obesity at age 31 had almost 3 ½ times increased risk of bleeding stroke, and men with obesity at age 31 had more than 5 ½ times increased risk of bleeding stroke," the news release stated.

Although no increased risk of clot-caused stroke was observed in men who were overweight at ages 14 or 31, those with obesity at age 31 had a higher risk of bleeding stroke compared to women with obesity at the same age.

"Our findings suggest that being overweight may have long-term health effects even if the excess weight is temporary. Healthcare professionals should pay attention to overweight and obesity in young people and work with them to develop healthier eating patterns and physical activity. However, conversations with teens and young adults about weight should be approached in a non-judgmental and non-stigmatizing manner," said lead study author Ursula Mikkola.