Family Tree Provides Marker for Stroke Risk
Feb. 11, 2000 (New Orleans) -- Two new studies suggest that, just as one can
inherit a parent's blue eyes or black hair, that same family tree can pass
along granddad's stroke. That was the conclusion of two new studies reported
Friday at the 25th International Stroke Conference.
Daniel Woo, MD, assistant professor of neurology at the University of
Cincinnati, tells WebMD that he and his colleagues identified "stroke
families in the greater Cincinnati area." He says that among persons with a
type of stroke that is caused by bleeding in the brain, 25% of those who had
strokes when they were younger than 70 had at least one first-degree relative
-- parent or sibling -- who'd had a stroke. He says this cohort of younger
patients was "four times more likely to have multiple family members with
Zoltan Voko, MD, PhD, says data from his study of over 7,200 people aged 55
or older indicate that having one relative who had a stroke before age 65
"increases one's risk somewhat, but having two or more relatives who had
stroke at a younger age doubles one's risk of stroke." Even having one or
more family members with strokes after age 65 increases the risk of having a
stroke. Voko tells WebMD that the Rotterdam study includes strokes caused by
blood clots in the blood vessels in the brain as well as strokes from bleeding.
He is with Erasmus University Medical School in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Joseph Broderick, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Cincinnati,
led a press briefing with presenters from both studies. He tells WebMD that
these findings underline the need to know family history. "When you find
one of these multiple-stroke families with two or three family members having
stroke, I think it is advisable to pursue prevention. This is analogous to a
family with a history of [colon] cancer, in which family members are urged to
have a colonoscopy [screening test for colon cancer]." Broderick says that
prevention should be targeted at modifying known risk factors such as smoking,
high blood pressure, and diabetes.