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Preventing stroke: the importance of knowing your genetic risk

05 Mar 2023
Prevenir el ictus: la importancia de conocer tu riesgo genético

Stroke, also known as a stroke, is one of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide. According to experts, during a stroke, two million neurons can die every minute, which can lead to devastating consequences for the health and quality of life of those affected. However, thanks to advances in genetics, it is now possible to better understand the causes and risk factors associated with this disease, which can help prevent its onset or reduce its impact if it does occur.

Analyze the DNA of each person to identify genetic mutations related to this disease, as well as other risk factors such as age, sex, lifestyle and family medical history.

Among the most common causes of a stroke is atherosclerosis, a disease characterized by the narrowing and hardening of the arteries due to the accumulation of fat and cholesterol in the walls of the blood vessels. Atherosclerosis can affect both the arteries of the brain and the heart, increasing the risk of having a stroke or heart attack. Other risk factors for stroke related to cardiovascular health include high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and a sedentary lifestyle.

Another common cause of stroke is heart problems, especially atrial fibrillation, a heart arrhythmia that can cause clots to form in the heart that can then travel to the brain and cause a stroke. Atrial fibrillation affects millions of people around the world and is especially common in people older than 65 years. Symptoms of this arrhythmia can include rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fatigue, and shortness of breath, among others.

Blood diseases can also increase the risk of stroke. For example, sickle cell anemia, a genetic disease that affects the shape of red blood cells, can increase the risk of blood clots and brain damage in people who have it. Other diseases that can increase the risk of stroke include thrombocytosis, polycythemia vera, and von Willebrand disease.

Genetics also play a role in stroke risk. Certain genetic mutations are known to increase the risk of this disease, including mutations in the APOE, MTHFR, and ACE genes. These genes are involved in cholesterol regulation, folate metabolism, and cardiovascular function, respectively.

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