Siblings have many things in common, and apparently strokes are no exception. If you have a brother or sister who has had a stroke, your chances of also having one are 60% higher. So reports the American Heart Association (AHA).
In a study published in the AHA's Circulation: Cardiovascular Geneticsjournal, researchers analyzed sibling relations, sex of siblings, and age as they related to the likelihood of stroke, from 1987 to 2007. In all, they studied 30,735 people who had a sibling with a stroke and 152,391 similarly aged people with no history of a sibling having a stroke.
While the chance of having a stroke was 60% if a sibling had one, this incidence increased dramatically with younger age. If a study participant’s sibling was less than 55 years of age when he or she had that stroke, the participant had a 94% chance of also having a stroke before age 55.
The gender of either sibling did not seem to make a difference.
“Health professionals should pay as much attention to a family history of stroke in siblings as in parents, and make patients aware that a genetic predisposition exists,” said lead investigator Dr. Erik Ingelsson.
No information about other risk factors for stroke, such as high blood pressure or cholesterol, were available to the researchers, so they could not say for certain whether the increased incidence of stroke was solely due to genetic reasons. “Similar lifestyle habits between families also could be at work, and those can be changed,” said Dr. Ingelsson.
“If your sibling has had a stroke, it should motivate you to take more preventive actions and to pay more attention to lifestyle habits such as diet, exercise, and blood pressure control,” he continued.
Warning signs of stroke include:
-Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
-Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
-Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
-Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
-Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
If you notice any of these signs in yourself or a loved one, call 9-1-1 immediately and take note of the time the first symptoms appeared. For most types of stroke, if a drug called tPA is given within three hours of the start of symptoms, it may reduce long-term disability.