Introduction: Over half of patients with acute ischemic stroke are overweight or obese as defined by a body mass index (BMI) ≥25 kg/m2. Professional and government agencies recommend weight management for these persons to improve risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including hypertension, dyslipidemia, vascular inflammation, and diabetes. However, approaches to weight loss have not been adequately tested specifically in patients with stroke. In anticipation of a larger trial with vascular or functional outcomes, we tested the feasibility and safety of a 12-week partial meal replacement (PMR) intervention for weight loss in overweight or obese patients with a recent ischemic stroke. Methods: This randomized open-label trial enrolled participants from December 2019 to February 2021 (with hiatus from March to August 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on research). Eligible patients had a recent ischemic stroke and BMI 27–49.9 kg/m2. Patients were randomized to a PMR diet (OPTAVIA® Optimal Weight 4 & 2 & 1 Plan®) plus standard care (SC) or SC alone. The PMR diet consisted of four meal replacements supplied to participants, two meals with lean protein and vegetables (self-prepared or supplied), and a healthy snack (also self-prepared or supplied). The PMR diet provided 1,100–1,300 calories per day. SC consisted of one instructional session on a healthy diet. Co-primary outcomes were ≥5% weight loss at 12 weeks and to identify barriers to successful weight loss among participants assigned to PMR. Safety outcomes included hospitalization, falls, pneumonia, or hypoglycemia requiring treatment by self or others. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, study visits after August 2020 were by remote communication. Results: We enrolled 38 patients from two institutions. Two patients in each arm were lost and could not be included in outcome analyses. At 12 weeks, 9/17 patients in the PMR group and 2/17 patients in the SC group achieved ≥5% weight loss (52.9% vs. 11.9%; Fisher’s exact p = 0.03). Mean percent weight change in the PMR group was −3.0% (SD 13.7) and −2.6% (SD 3.4) in the SC group (Wilcoxon rank-sum p = 0.17). No adverse events were attributed to study participation. Some participants had difficulty completing home monitoring of weight. In the PMR group, participants reported that food cravings and dislike for some food products were barriers to weight loss. Conclusion: A PMR diet after ischemic stroke is feasible, safe, and effective for weight loss. In future trials, in-person or improved remote outcome monitoring may reduce anthropometric data variation.

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