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Research Identifies Key Nontraditional Risk Factors Related to Stroke

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Prevention of stroke is one of the crucial areas of preventative health measures. Even though young individuals have a lower risk of stroke, it is essential to be aware of the risk factors associated with stroke since these can be lifelong. 

The journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes recently analyzed how nontraditional and traditional risk factors for stroke can impact young adults as well. Researchers analyzed data from 2600 stroke cases and over 7800 controls and found out how traditional and nontraditional risk factors contribute to stroke risk in adults aged 55 and younger.  

The study concluded that nontraditional risk factors contribute to stroke, mostly in adults under 35, and risks from these declined with age. The results highlight the importance of identifying nontraditional stroke risk factors, especially among young adults. Stroke is a dangerous health event since it can lead to brain damage. There are two main types of strokes: ischemic and hemorrhagic. In ischemic stroke, there is a blockage within the brain’s blood supply. However, within hemorrhagic stroke, bleeding often occurs in the brain from a ruptured artery. There are multiple risk factors that can increase someone’s chances of getting a stroke. Some of these factors include high blood pressure, diabetes, low levels of physical activity, and smoking. Having a family history of stroke of AB blood type can also increase the risk. People with such factors should seek medical advice and guidance to help them determine their levels of stroke.  

Researchers in the study wanted to focus on some of the more nontraditional risk factors for stroke. They created the following breakdown for their research. 

Traditional vascular risk factors included: 

Nontraditional risk factors included: 

  • pregnancy and the postpartum period 
  • use of oral contraceptives 
  • migraine
  • Malignancy, HIV, and hepatitis
  • Thrombophilia
  • heart valve disorders
  • kidney failure. 

Researchers have analyzed models stratified by age and biological sex to compare the traditional and nontraditional stroke risk factors. They divided participants into three age groups: 

  • 18–34-year-olds 
  • 35–44-year-olds 
  • 45–55-year-olds 

Among 2628 stroke cases that were examined, 73.3% were ischemic strokes, and 52% occurred in women. The most common traditional risk factors they observed were high blood pressure, hyperlipidemia, and tobacco use. 

Among men, the most common nontraditional risk factors were migraine and kidney failure. But among women, the most common nontraditional risk factors were migraine, thrombophilia, and malignancy. Thus, it was concluded that nontraditional risk factors contribute more to stroke within young age groups than traditional risk factors. Traditional risk factors account for 25.3% of strokes among men and 33.3% of strokes among women. It can be said that risk from traditional factors peaked among participants in the 35–44-year-old category but risk from non traditional factors decrease with age. 

Journal Reference – Leppert, M. H., Poisson, S. N., Scarbro, S., Suresh, K., Lisabeth, L. D., Putaala, J., … Ho, P. M. (2024). Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. doi:10.1161/circoutcomes.123.010307