Stroke Risk Almost Double for Siblings of Those Who've Had Attacks

Study finds genetic link to ischemic incidents, especially in Mexican-Americans

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WEDNESDAY, May 2, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- If you have a sibling who's suffered a stroke, you might be nearly twice as likely as the average person to suffer a stroke, a new U.S. study says.

Researchers assessed stroke risk in 807 siblings of 181 people, aged 45 to 65, who had strokes in Nueces County, Texas. Nearly 60 percent of the stroke patients were Mexican-American, and the rest were non-Hispanic whites.

The stroke patients suffered either an ischemic stroke (where blood flow to the brain is blocked) or a transient ischemic attack, a "mini-stroke" that resolves itself.

The study, expected to be presented in Boston this week at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting, found that brothers and sisters of people who had a stroke were nearly twice as likely at the average American to have a stroke. The risk was even higher among Mexican-Americans.

"The findings show there may be a genetic link to ischemic strokes in this ethnic group," study author Lynda D. Lisabeth, with the stroke program and department of epidemiology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, said in a prepared statement.

"Other possible explanations could include shared environmental factors such as diet, physical activity and smoking habits. Medical conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes, which cluster in families, may also play a role," she said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about stroke risk factors and symptoms.

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, May 2, 2007

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