WEDNESDAY, Feb. 2 (HealthDay News) -- A mother's history of
stroke can help predict a daughter's chances of not only having a
stroke but also her chances of having a heart attack, new research
"Our new study shows that stroke in mothers is associated with heart attacks in daughters," said Dr. Amitava Banerjee, a clinical research associate at the Stroke Prevention Research Unit at the University of Oxford, in England.
In other words, a stroke in mothers or other first-degree
relatives can help identify women at increased risk for heart
attacks -- even if their mother has not had a heart attack.
The research, published in
Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics, shows an association, but a cause-and-effect relationship has yet to be determined, Banerjee said.
Putting the research in perspective, he said: "We know that, in
men and women, stroke or heart attack in the parents increases the
risk of heart attack. Previous studies have not looked at these
issues by sex of the parent or sex of the patient and have not
looked in a 'prospective' way -- that is, they have not followed up
a population over time."
In the new study, Banerjee and his colleagues evaluated 2,210
men and women who had either heart attacks or other coronary
syndromes or strokes. Complete family histories were not available
for all of them. But the researchers found that more than 24
percent of those who'd had heart attacks and angina -- and about
the same percentage of patients who had had strokes or transient
ischemic attacks (called TIAs, or mini-strokes) -- had a history of
stroke in one or more first-degree relatives, such as their parents
This indicates that stroke history in parents and siblings is as
important to a person's risk for a heart attack as it is to stroke
risk, according to Banerjee.
Maternal stroke was more common than paternal stroke history in
women with heart attacks or unstable angina. Women heart patients
were more than twice as likely to have a mother who'd had a stroke
than a father who did. The same link was not found in men with
heart problems, however.
Exactly why mothers' history of stroke seems to play a role in
their daughters' heart attacks is not known. Banerjee said it's not
possible to say whether environment or genes are playing the larger
role in the mother-daughter association.
The link found between a mother's stroke history and a
daughter's heart attack and stroke held even if the mother had only
a stroke, with no heart attack history, Banerjee said.
Dr. Tatjana Rundek, an associate professor of neurology,
epidemiology and public health at the University of Miami Miller
School of Medicine, said that the association between maternal
stroke and a daughter's heart attack is relatively new but that it
ties in with other research, including her own, that examines sex
differences in cardiovascular risk.
In her own recent study, Rundek said, she found that genetic
variations in genes involved in fat metabolism may have
gender-dependent effects on plaque in arteries.
Research also has found that women have more systemic
inflammation, she said. Inflammation is linked with buildup of
fatty deposits in arteries.
What the new findings mean for women whose mothers had a stroke,
Rundek said, is the need to "understand your own personal risk of
stroke or heart attack." Be sure you know your numbers -- blood
pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol levels, she said, and
change behaviors to improve the numbers if need be.
Banerjee added that "women whose mothers have had stroke --
particularly before the age of 65 -- should have their blood
pressure and cholesterol checked, and think about lifestyle factors
such as smoking more than women without family history of
The American Stroke Association has more about
risk factors for stroke.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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