A new study has found people’s blood groups could be related to their risk of having a stroke. Researchers at the University of Maryland in the US discovered that those with blood type A are 16 per cent more likely to suffer a stroke before the age of 60 than everyone else.
The scientists analysed data from a number of studies investigating genetics and ischaemic strokes, which are the most common type of stroke. Once other risk factors like sex, weight and smoking were removed, the link remained.
Individuals with blood group B also had an elevated risk, while Os had the lowest chance of having a stroke. Further research is required to ascertain why blood groups might influence stroke risks, but the connection is likely to be related to contributory factors associated with blood clots.
Nearly one in ten strokes are ischaemic, meaning they occur when a clot prevents blood and oxygen reaching the brain. They usually form in arteries that have been narrowed or blocked by plaques made up of fatty deposits.
In total, information from 48 different studies was brought together by the scientists in Maryland. It included data on some 7,000 people who’d experienced a stroke and 600,000 healthy individuals.
The results showed there was no impact on stroke risk for those with B and AB blood types, while people with O blood running through their veins were 12 per cent less likely to have a stroke before turning 60. Further analysis showed one in 16 strokes for people with type A were due to their blood group alone.
Dr Steven Kittner, professor of neurology and co-principal investigator for the study, said: “The number of people with early strokes is rising. These people are more likely to die from the life-threatening event, and survivors potentially face decades with disability.
We still don’t know why blood type A would confer a higher risk, but it likely has something to do with blood-clotting factors like platelets and cells that line the blood vessels.”
There are 1.3 million stroke survivors in the UK, according to the Stroke Association. The level of care required after a stroke depends on a number of factors, including how quickly medical attention was sought at the time of the stroke.
Relatives of those who’ve experienced a stroke are reminded of the need to be patient in helping the individual with their recovery. Finding new ways to communicate with loved ones in the aftermath of a stroke can sometimes be necessary as speech is often affected.
Mobility is another area that often requires rehabilitation after a stroke and can lead to a lack of independence if symptoms have been severe. Stroke survivors are also at a greater risk of developing vascular dementia as a result of damage sustained by the brain.
Understanding which blood groups are more predisposed to a stroke could lead to better preventative treatments in the future. Meanwhile, lifestyle changes, such as cutting down on alcohol, retaining a healthy weight and not smoking can help reduce the risk of having a stroke.