Common blood test could predict risk of 2nd stroke

Common blood test could predict risk of 2nd stroke


Ischemic strokes result from blockages preventing blood flow to the brain; they are responsible for approximately 85 percent of all stroke cases. (Hemorrhagic strokes, on the other hand, occur when blood vessels burst and bleed into the brain.)

Researchers have linked high levels of C-Reactive Protein, an enzyme found in the blood, with increased risk for recurrent ischemic stroke. C-Reactive Protein (CRP) is produced in the liver in response to inflammation, and it is already checked to measure people's risk of developing coronary artery disease. The new research published in the journal Neurology suggests it could be a useful tool for ischemic stroke patients as well.

To better understand ischemic stroke, researchers set out to determine how our genes affect the levels of biomarkers such as CRP in our blood. Not only did they find that elevated CRP levels suggest increased stroke risk, they identified gene variations that drive those risks.

"So we have the genetics influencing [CRP] levels, which then increases the risk of having a recurrent stroke. Then we went back and said alright, can we predict the increased risk purely based on the genetics, which we were able to do," author said. "There's this shared genetic susceptibility not only for increased C-Reactive Protein but for increased risk for stroke. We could estimate what's called a hazard ratio - basically the increased risk for having or not having a second stroke - based on the genetics."

Authors envision a day when doctors might focus on CRP levels and a patient's genetic makeup to determine the patient's overall risk for a second stroke. But even CRP levels alone could be a useful tool in assessing risk after the initial stroke. "Getting a CRP measure on someone is really simple. It's just a blood draw. You don't have to take something like a biopsy which patients might have an aversion to," author said. "It's not very expensive, and it's part of routine workups that could be done for patients. However, combined with genetic information, we may have even more power to identify those at greatest risk."

http://www.neurology.org/content/86/4/351.short?sid=590ec6ab-d4d0-4437-a51b-fe0dd3c9e191

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