Changes in Fat Mass in Stroke Survivors: A Systematic Review Academic Article uri icon


  • Stroke survivors have less muscle mass in their paretic limbs compared with nonparetic limbs, which may or may not be accompanied by changes in regional and/or whole body fat mass.To examine the current evidence regarding differences in regional fat mass between paretic and nonparetic limbs and changes in whole body fat mass over time in stroke survivors.A systematic search of relevant databases. Studies measuring whole body or regional fat mass using dual-energy X-ray absorpiometry, computed tomography, or magnetic resonance imaging were included.Eleven trials were identified. Fat mass differences between paretic and nonparetic limbs and change in fat mass over time were not consistent. Meta-analyses were conducted using dual-energy X-ray absorpiometry-derived data from 10 trials (n = 324). There were no differences in fat mass between paretic and nonparetic legs (pooled mean difference 31·4 g, 95% confidence interval -33·9 to 96·6, P = 0·35), and slightly greater fat mass in the paretic arms compared with nonparetic arms (pooled mean difference 84·0 g, 95% confidence interval 30·7 to 137·3, P = 0·002). Whole body fat mass did not increase significantly between one-month and six-months poststroke (pooled mean difference 282·3 g, 95% confidence interval -824·4 to 1389, P = 0·62), but there was an increase between six- and 12 months poststroke (pooled mean difference 1935 g, 95% confidence interval 1031 to 2839, P < 0·001).There were inconsistent findings regarding changes in fat mass after stroke. Large, well-designed studies are required to further investigate the impact of body composition changes on the health of stroke survivors.


  • Borowski, Allan
  • English, Coralie
  • Thoirs, Kerry
  • Coates, Alison
  • Ryan, Alice
  • Bernhardt, Julie

publication date

  • August 2012