Stroke: How your blood type could predict your risk of the condition

Emmerdale: Mark Charnock reflects on stroke storyline

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Publishing their research in the Neurology journal, the researchers analysed data from around 600,000 healthy controls and 17,000 stroke patients across 48 studies.

From this they looked at the data and ascertained whether there was a link between their blood type, A, AB, B, O, and whether or not they had had a stroke or not. They found that people with blood type A were more likely to have an early stroke than those with blood type O.

Their research also showed that those who had blood type B were more likely to suffer an early or late stroke compared to control groups, but that people with blood type A were 16 percent more likely to have an early stroke than people with other blood types.

Meanwhile, those who had blood type O were 12 percent less likely to experience a stroke than those with other blood types.

Co-investigator on the study Professor Braxton Mitchell said: “Our meta-analysis looked at people’s genetic profiles and found associations between blood type and risk of early-onset stroke. The association of blood type with later-onset stroke was much weaker than what we found with early stroke.”

However, while the researchers have identified that those with a certain blood type are more likely to experience a stroke than others, they do not as yet know why.

Fellow study co-author Dr Steven Kittner said: “We still don’t know why blood type A would confer a higher risk, but it likely has something to do with blood-clotting factors like platelets and cells that line the blood vessels as well as other circulating proteins, all of which play a role in the development of blood clots.

“We clearly need more follow-up studies to clarify the mechanisms of increased stroke risk,” he added.”

As with other studies, there are a couple of limitations to this research, most notably the lack of diversity of the participants in the study with only about 35 percent of those studied of non-European ancestry.

On ancestry, Mark Gladwin of the University of Maryland said: “This study raises an important question that requires a deeper investigation into how our genetically predetermined blood type may play a role in early stroke risk.

“It points to the urgent need to find new ways to prevent these potentially devastating events in younger adults.”

The reason for Gladwin’s sense of urgency is because the number of young people experiencing strokes is on the rise in comparison to those experiencing them later on in life.

Subsequently, this study endeavoured to begin the process of filling the gap in the study of early strokes. Co-author Kittner added: “These people are more likely to die from the life-threatening event, and survivors potentially face decades with disability. Despite this, there is little research on the causes of early strokes.”

What are the main types of stroke?

There is now one type of stroke, but two distinct ways it can affect the body in the form of an ischaemic stroke or ahaemorrhagic stroke.

An ischaemic stroke is where the blood supply is stopped because of a blood clot; this is the most common form of stroke and is the cause of 85 percent of those that occur.

Meanwhile, a haemorrhagic stroke is one caused by a weakened blood vessel supplying blood to the brain bursting; this accounts for the remaining 15 percent of strokes.

Alongside these two types of stroke, there are also stroke related conditions such as a transient ischaemic attack which happens when blood supply to the brain is temporarily interrupted causing what is known as a mini-stroke.

This mini-stroke can last anywhere from a few minutes to up to 24 hours. Like the other types of strokes, TIA’s need to be treated immediately as they can act as a precursor or warning sign that a full stroke will occur shortly.

Certain factors can increase someone’s risk of stroke including a poor diet, inactivity, and the presence of other conditions such as atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

Should anyone have these conditions it is essential these are treated or managed with great care so that the risk of a stroke of any kind is reduced and limited.

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