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Brothers and sisters of stroke patients at higher risk of having one too

Brothers and sisters of stroke patients at higher risk of having one Genetics and lifestyle could be involved, say researchers

Brothers and sisters of stroke patients may be at a greater risk of having one themselves, according to new research.

A study published in the journal Circulation found that brothers and sisters of stroke patients were 64 per cent more likely to have a stroke compared with people whose siblings had never had a stroke.

The risk of having a stroke was also found to be greater - nearly double - for people whose sibling had a stroke before the age of 56, researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm found.

Lead study author Dr Erik Ingelsson, a professor of cardiovascular epidemiology, said: "Patients in the risk zone of getting a heart attack or stroke should be made aware that a genetic predisposition exists."

[Related story: Two new stroke warning signs]

However, he said that other factors may be behind the findings: "The increased familial risk may not solely be due to genetics. Similar lifestyle within families could also be involved, and lifestyle can of course be modified."

The researchers analysed the hospital discharge and mortality records of 30,735 people with a sibling who had a stroke and compared these with 152,391 adults of a similar age with a sibling who had never had one.

The study found that brothers and sisters of stroke patients were up to 64 per cent more likely to have a stroke themselves, compared with people with siblings who had never had one.

Half-brothers and sisters of stroke patients were 41 per cent more likely to have a stroke themselves, compared with people whose siblings had never had one.

The researchers pointed out that the study did not look at underlying risk factors for stroke such as high blood pressure or cholesterol levels, so they were not able to establish how much genetics or lifestyle factors added to the risk of stroke within families.

"But either way, if your sibling has had a stroke, it may be a good idea to pay more attention to lifestyle habits such as diet and exercise, and to have your blood pressure checked at regular intervals," Dr Inglesson said.

This article was published on Wed 11 April 2012



Image © James Steidl - Fotolia.com


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