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Women's Stroke Risk Tied to Family History

Stroke in parent or sibling doubled the risk

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 24, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Young women whose parents or siblings have suffered a stroke are at increased risk of stroke themselves, according to a University of Washington study in the December issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The study of more than 500 women, ages 18 to 44, found a nearly twofold increase of ischemic stroke (caused by a blocked blood vessel) in young women with a family history of stroke in any first-degree relative. The study also found a 2.4-fold increase in the risk of hemorrhagic stroke (caused by a ruptured blood vessel) among young women with a family history of stroke.

"A positive family history of stroke is thought to be an important risk factor for stroke, although this relationship is not clearly established," study co-author Helen Kim said in a prepared statement. "The few studies that have examined this association have mainly focused on middle-aged to elderly populations and the results have been inconsistent," she added.

"Strokes are of particular concern in these early-onset cases because of the potential for serious, long-term disability and associated healthcare costs," Kim said.

She noted, however, that it's not clear why family history affects a woman's risk of stroke.

"Considering that stroke is the second major cause of mortality in women, further research should be focused on identifying the reasons for familial aggregation of stroke, be they genetic, environmental, or, more likely, a combination of both," Kim said.

More information

The U.S. National Women's Health Information Center has more about stroke and heart disease.

SOURCE: Center for the Advancement of Health, news release, Nov. 22, 2004
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