Study identifies genes linked to stroke risk

An international team of researchers has identified new genes that predispose people to ischaemic stroke, which constitute 85 per cent of all strokes.

The researchers, who conducted perhaps the largest such study for the research, were also helped by a comprehensive review of the human genome.

The researchers were able to identify a new gene that could become a drug target for doctors seeking to prevent this potentially deadly and often debilitating condition.

"We have started to alter the mortality from stroke, which is great and exciting," said one of the researchers Bradford Worrall from University of Virginia in the US.

"However, if you look at all the known risk factors, they are fairly poor at predicting an individual's risk. There's some statistics that suggest as much as 50 per cent of the residual risk is unexplained, which is why understanding the underlying genetic contributors is so important," Worrall noted.

The research had confirmed the role of the handful of genes earlier suspected.

Stroke accounts for the second highest number of deaths from among health conditions, globally. The risk factors for stroke include smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.

Our genes are an important element in the degree of risk for stroke, however, according to researchers, not much was known about the inheritable risk for ischemic stroke.

The project looked at the genomes of tens of thousands of stroke patients and many more control participants.

The findings, which represent the work of researchers around the world was published online in the journal Lancet Neurology.

Ischemic stroke represents a collection of several different stroke subtypes, which includes strokes caused by blood clots that formed in or near the heart and strokes cause by the thickening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) in the head or neck.

The new gene identified by the study, for instance is believed to be associated with strokes resulting from large artery atherosclerosis.