A rare genetic disorder may be responsible for causing strokes in young people, though the condition's progress can be slowed using enzyme replacement treatment, says a study.
The disorder known as Fabry disease is characterised by attacks of burning pain in the hands and feet, dark nodular skin lesions and progressive renal insufficiency.
It is caused by a missing or faulty enzyme needed by the body to process oils, waxes and fatty acids, reports the online edition of BBC News.
These lipids build up to harmful levels in the eyes, kidneys, nervous system, and cardiovascular system. People with the disease can die prematurely because of renal, cardiac or cerebrovascular complications.
The researchers at University of Rostock, Germany, led by Arndt Rolfs, carried out genetic screening of over 700 adults suffering from unexplained strokes to find out whether they had Fabry disease.
They found that four percent of the studied people, aged 18-55 years who had a stroke, also had Fabry disease. The strokes occurred about a decade earlier in people with the condition, they said.
The researchers found that nearly five percent of the male stroke patients and just over two percent of the female patients had genes linked to Fabry disease.
According to the scientists, this could mean that one in 100 of all young people suffering from strokes may have Fabry disease.
This study also found that the average age for a man with Fabry disease to have a stroke was 38, while for women, it was 40.
For men and women who did not have Fabry disease, the average age at which they had a stroke was 48.
"These data show that Fabry disease must be considered as a potential cause of a cryptogenic (unexplained) strokes in young people, and may be more common than previously thought" Rolfs said.
"This is a new and important consideration for healthcare professionals managing young people with strokes, and may indicate a need for screening for Fabry disease in this patient population."