Are Strokes Hereditary?
If your parent, grandparent, or another family member suffered a stroke, you may be wondering whether you have a greater chance of also experiencing this condition. Likewise, if you previously had a stroke, you might be questioning whether your children are at risk. Read on, as DispatchHealth has compiled all of the information you need to know about stroke heredity.
What Is a Stroke?
Before getting into the question of whether strokes are hereditary, it may be helpful to review exactly what a stroke is. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel responsible for supplying blood to the brain either bursts (referred to as a “hemorrhagic stroke”) or becomes blocked (referred to as an “ischemic stroke”). When this happens, the resulting lack of oxygen can either damage or kill nerve cells within the brain, which can in turn make it difficult or even impossible to operate body parts controlled by that portion of the brain.
Are Strokes Genetic?
Many of the underlying conditions that can increase someone’s chances of experiencing a stroke are hereditary. These include but are not limited to:
- Cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL)
- Cerebral autosomal recessive arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CARASIL)
- Cerebral venous thrombosis
- Cerebrotendinous xanthomatosis
- Coagulation system disorders
- Deficiency of Adenosine Deaminase 2 (DADA2)
- Fabry disease
- Fibromuscular dysplasia
- Giant cell (temporal) arteritis
- Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (Osler-Weber-Rendu disease)
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Mitochondrial encephalomyopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episodes (MELAS)
- Moyamoya disease
- Reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCVS)
- Sickle cell anemia
Because these genetic conditions can be passed from one generation to another, and because these conditions can increase the likelihood of having a stroke, it means that individuals who inherit these conditions will also be more likely to experience a stroke.
Other Risk Factors for Strokes
In addition to the underlying genetic conditions listed above, there are a number of risk factors that can make someone more likely to experience a stroke, including:
- Age – Although a stroke can occur at any age, older adults are more likely to have strokes. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the risk of experiencing a stroke approximately doubles every 10 years after someone turns 55.
- Sex – Women are more likely than men to experience strokes.
- Race and ethnicity – When compared to non-Hispanic white and Asian people, black, Hispanic, American Indian, and Alaska Native people are more likely to have a stroke.
- Obesity – Carrying excess weight can increase someone’s chances of developing heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), and diabetes, all of which are risk factors for a stroke.
- A history of smoking – Studies have shown that smoking can significantly increase the chances of having a stroke. This happens for a variety of reasons. For example, there is evidence of a correlation between smoking and the buildup of fatty substances within the carotid artery, which is the primary neck artery responsible for sending blood to the brain. Smoking can also raise someone’s blood pressure, make blood thicker and more prone to clotting, reduce the amount of oxygen that blood can transport to the brain, and increase the likelihood of an aneurysm forming.
It’s important to remember that even if you have one or more of these risk factors, it simply means that you are more likely to have a stroke, not that you will definitely experience one.
The Team to Choose for In-Home Care Following a Stroke
If you think you may be having a stroke, or if a loved one is showing the signs of a stroke, it’s important to call 911 immediately, since prompt treatment can improve the chances of survival and recovery. With that being said, even after having received emergency treatment, you may need additional care for the post-conditions of a stroke. For that, you can turn to DispatchHealth. We’re a trusted mobile healthcare provider that brings convenient and affordable medical care to patients in the comfort of their own homes.
To request a visit from DispatchHealth, call us, visit our website, or download our mobile app. We look forward to delivering you the care you need.
* Please note: For life-threatening and time-sensitive injuries and illnesses, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. DispatchHealth shouldn’t be used in a life-threatening emergency and doesn’t replace a primary care provider.
DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.
Sources referenced in this article: