There are many steps that we can take to lower our risk of having a stroke, including taking aspirin at the right time of day, exercising regularly, and eating the right foods. However, a new study has found that something we can’t affect, our blood type, could be a major indicator of stroke risk.
Published in the science journal Neurology, the study of more than 600,000 patients found that people who are Type A face a higher likelihood of developing an early-onset stroke, before the age of 60. While type O blood types are actually less likely to experience a stroke than other blood types.
Commenting on this new research, Stroke UK’s Communications Lead Dr Clare Jonas cautioned: “We don’t yet know why people with blood type A might be at increased risk of early stroke. This means we can’t yet develop targeted preventions for early stroke.”
Dr Jonas continued: “However, this research is a great step towards helping healthcare professionals figure out who would most benefit from monitoring for other risk factors and being offered interventions to help reduce risk.”
There are four blood groups – A, B, AB, O – that help medical professionals know which kinds of blood or organs they can safely transfuse or transplant when necessary. Of these, type O is the most common blood type in the UK as 48 per cent of the population has this group.
While type A blood was found to be associated with a higher risk of stroke, and Type O with a reduced risk, the data was less conclusive for other blood types, though people with Type B were found to have a higher association with stroke than a control group.
Researchers analysed the genomic data of more than 16,000 people in the United States who suffered from a stroke, before comparing it to a control group of around 600,000 other non-stroke patients. Their analysis found that the stroke sufferers had a higher number of genetic variants within their DNA associated with blood type.
The study’s author, University of Maryland’s Dr Braxton Mitchell, explained the results to MedicalNewsToday, saying: “We compared genetic differences between 16,730 young adults with ischemic stroke and ~600,000 non-stroke controls and found significant differences between the two groups in the frequency of gene variants that code for the ABO blood group.
“Specifically, cases were more likely than controls to have variants that coded for blood group A and less likely to have variants that code for blood group O.”
While this new research indicates a path for further research, the main risk factors for stroke remain your age and lifestyle factors like high blood pressure or cholesterol. Regardless of blood type, working to reduce your risk factors will mean you could live longer and face fewer serious illnesses in your later year.s.