Parental Stroke Increases Stroke Risk in Children

04/07/2010 - News

Parental Stroke Increases Stroke Risk in Children

By: June Chen, MD


After heart disease and cancer, stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. In addition to modifiable risk factors such as high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, and obesity, non-modifiable risk factors such as increasing age, male gender, and previous history of stroke or heart attack contribute to the risk of stroke. New data from the Framingham Heart Study demonstrates that parental stroke before the age of 65 triples the risk of stroke among children.

Previous research has varied in its findings regarding the relationship between family history of stroke and stroke risk. Using data from the Framingham Heart Study, researchers from Boston University and their colleagues analyzed data on 3443 individuals with no history of stroke whose parents had a known stroke status by the age of 65. Among this study group, a total of 106 parental strokes were documented by the age of 65 and 128 strokes were documented among the offspring. Statistical analysis revealed that the risk of stroke was increased by as much as three times in individuals who had at least one parent with stroke by the age of 65.

These findings were published in a recent issue of Circulation. While previous studies have been inconsistent in verifying the importance of family history of stroke as a risk factor for stroke, the current findings are based on long term in-person observation across multiple generations of family members. While further research is needed to identify and understand the genes responsible for stroke risk, it does seem that obtaining a family history is an important component of estimating an individual’s risk for stroke.

Created on: 04/07/2010
Reviewed on: 04/07/2010

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