The study participants are part of a research initiative called the Stroke Prevention in Young Women Study, which evaluates both genetic and non-genetic risk factors for ischemic stroke in young women. These women are from Maryland, Washington D.C., and portions of southern Pennsylvania and western Delaware.
The Stroke Prevention in Young Women study also provided the researchers with a control group for comparison purposes that consisted of women who had not suffered a stroke.
The new study also associated the genetic variations with stroke in both small and large blood vessels. And the researchers found the increased risk to be similar for both the African-American and Caucasian stroke patients. But, they say, more research is needed, including looking at a larger sample size and other population groups, before the concept can be applied to patient care.
"We want to know how these polymorphisms work. Do they cause the body to produce a defective protein or perhaps too much or too little of a particular protein? With more understanding, perhaps we can develop a genetic test that will help patients," says Dr. Cole, who also is a neurologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center.