Gene fault linked to stroke risk

Little Hampton Gazette: A “single genetic mutation can double your risk of stroke”, the Daily Mail has reported. The newspaper added that scientists hope the discovery could lead to tailored treatments for the condition.

The news is based on research which looked for genetic variations that were more common in people who had had an ischaemic stroke than in people who had not had one. Ischaemic strokes occur when the blood flow to a part of the brain is blocked. They account for 80% of stroke cases. By testing the DNA of several thousand participants, the researchers identified a new genetic variant that was associated with increased risk of a type of ischaemic stroke called a “large vessel stroke”. In large vessel strokes, one or more of the arteries supplying blood to the brain become blocked. People can carry up to two copies of the variant, and the study’s authors estimated that each copy of the variant a person carried was associated with about a 42% increase in the odds of a large vessel stroke. However, it is not yet known whether this genetic variant raises the risk of a stroke, or if it is found near to another variant that is responsible for the increased risk.

This well-designed study has identified a new association between a genetic variation and strokes. However, the study cannot confirm whether the variation itself causes the increased risk of a stroke. This key issue will need to be clarified before these findings can contribute to the development of the new treatments that many newspapers optimistically predicted. Read Full Article