Family Tree Provides Marker for Stroke Risk
Woo says that in his study of strokes due to bleeding, he and his colleagues
didn't adjust for these risk factors and additional research will be needed to
determine whether there is a true genetic susceptibility or if these families
simply have a greater preponderance of risk factors. "But even if we are
really talking about risk factors such as diabetes or [high blood pressure], it
is likely that there is a familial pattern that explains the higher incidence
of the risk factors or, perhaps, a greater susceptibility to these
factors," Woo says. In any case, he says, the take-home message is that
families with a history of stroke should be offered counseling.
Monique Breteler, MD, associate professor of neurology at Erasmus University
and a colleague of Voko, tells WebMD that they did control for risk factors,
and after correcting for other risk factors "family history was an
independent predictor of stroke."
Asked if persons with a family history of stroke should be counseled to take
a more aggressive approach with risk factor management -- for example, by
attempting to lower blood pressure to less than 120/80 -- Broderick says that
good blood pressure control is important, but he isn't sure that there is
evidence to support a "lower-is-better approach." Breteler says that
her group has conducted studies that suggest "very low blood pressure is
actually slightly more protective." She says that such an approach should
be considered for persons with a family history of stroke.
- Two new studies show that having family members who have had a stroke
increases the risk of stroke.
- Patients should be aware of their family histories and make them known to
- Counseling and prevention measures are recommended for patients who have
more than one family member who's had a stroke.