More women than men inherit ischaemic stroke, irrespective of traditional vascular risk factors, according to a study.
Ischaemic stroke is known to be partly heritable. However, the importance of genetic and environmental factors is uncertain. Emmanuel Touzé and Peter Rothwell of the Stroke Prevention Research Unit at the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, UK, assessed the relation between the sex of patients who had an ischaemic stroke or transient ischaemic attack and history of stroke in their mothers, fathers, and siblings.
The researchers used data reported in the population-based Oxford Vascular Study (OXVASC), which assessed all incident or recurrent transient ischaemic attacks and strokes in a population of 91 106 people registered with 63 family physicians in Oxfordshire, UK.
In addition to known differences between men and women with stroke and transient ischaemic attack, Touzé and Rothwell showed that women are more likely than men to have a history of stroke in mothers than in fathers and in sisters than in brothers. Additionally, age at stroke in patients and affected siblings was shown to be correlated with age at stroke in mothers but not in fathers. These findings show that the identification of a family history of stroke in a female first-degree relative is an important clinical indicator of an increased risk of stroke in women and the likely age at first stroke.