A gene has been discovered that reportedly slashes the risk of young and middle-aged individuals developing a stroke.
Scientists from Royal Holloway University, in collaboration with experts from the US and Europe, found that individuals who had a specific variant of a gene - known as PHACTR1 - had a much lower risk of a cervical artery dissection.
This is caused by a tear in an artery that leads to the brain - and is a common cause of stroke among young people.
The hope is that new treatment methods and prevention strategies can be produced as a result. What's more, this gene variant could help protect against migraines and heart attacks.
Researchers looked at the whole genome of 1,400 people with cervical artery dissection and 14,400 who didn't have the disease. It was the largest study of its kind ever carried out.
Professor Pankaj Sharma from the school of biological sciences said: "This is an important breakthrough. Our findings provide us with a greater understanding of how this region of the genome appears to influence key vascular functions, which could have major implications for the treatment of these severe and disabling conditions."
He added that working alongside experts from across the globe help to ascertain exactly what goes in when an individual experiences a stroke and how this can be prevented.
The full findings of this research can be viewed in the journal Nature Genetics.
While the majority of strokes happen to those over 65, anyone - including babies and children - are susceptible to experiencing one. It's thought there are 152,000 strokes across the UK every year.
High blood pressure, which is also known as hypertension, is a major factor that leads to the onset of a stroke.
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