There are many lifestyle factors that can up your risk of stroke as well as other cardiovascular problems-poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, just to name a few. But close examination of data from several long-term shows that stroke risk may also lie in your genes.

After reviewing information from four large studies encompassing more than 19,600 subjects, experts from various institutions identified two common genetic variants on chromosome 12 that raise the risk of stroke. Each of these variants increase stroke risk by 30 percent, and about one-fifth of Caucasians and one-tenth of African-Americans have them, according to the American Medical Association.

And while stroke risk usually rises with age, scientists have identified several gene variations that may predict stroke occurrence in younger women. The findings, part of the "Stroke Prevention in Young Women Study 2," took place at the University of Maryland. In this study, 400 Caucasian and African-American women between the ages of 15 and 49 were examined. Half of these women had suffered a stroke. The researchers learned that, depending on their particular genetic variations, the women had between a 50 percent and 100 percent increased risk of stroke compared with the normal population. Stroke in young women often is preceded by progressively worse migraines with aura (visual disturbances such as light flashes, blind spots, or zigzag patterns). Migraine sufferers who start birth-control pills have higher than normal stroke rates as well, as do smokers.

While scientists cannot yet accurately predict who will have a stroke, identifying patients with particular gene variants will help doctors target at-risk patients to modify their lifestyles and/or undergo more rigorous testing.



American Medical Association,,

Detroit Medical Center,