When it comes to blood types, there are four major categories within the ABO group: A, B, O, and AB. Within these groups are eight other blood types, with type O being the most common and AB negative being the rarest.
Do some of them affect stroke risk more than others? The best answer right now is maybe.
A recent press release drew attention to a research study investigating whether blood type may be linked to stroke risk before age 60. In this study, researchers examined all chromosomes to identify genetic variants associated with stroke and which blood groups may hold a higher risk of early stroke.
While studies like these are important and provide a great opportunity to better understand our risk, sensational headlines on the Internet can cause people to worry prematurely about certain factors beyond their control. This is especially true given that we inherit our blood type from our parents.
Blood type and stroke risk
“There are many nuances and variables to consider when interpreting research studies like these,” says Marco Gonzalez Castellon, MD, Nebraska Medicine neurologist. “Although this study suggests that type A blood is a possible risk factor for early stroke, suggesting a small 16% chance of higher risk, the study has its limitations.”
While this study may point us in the right direction to build on for future research, it tends to provide more clues than answers.
Most experts consider age 45 to be the gold standard for early stroke, while this study defines early stroke as before age 60. family history and more.
“This study is important, but it comes down to math,” adds Dr. Gonzalez Castellon. not necessarily the cause of a disease.”
In other words, the results of the study may show a possible correlation, but not causation. More research is needed to understand the link between blood type and stroke risk.
Other health factors weigh more than blood type when considering stroke risk
Although blood type can contribute to stroke risk, it’s not the biggest concern. The degree of association is much higher with certain health problems and lifestyle factors.
“When it comes to strokes, by far the biggest risk factor is if you have uncontrolled high blood pressure,” says Dr. Gonzales Castellon. “A history of smoking and uncontrolled diabetes are two other important risk factors. Your blood type will not protect you from the effects of these conditions or lifestyle choices.”
Stroke Prevention: You Can’t Control Your Blood Type, But You Can Control Other Aspects of Your Health
According to the American Stroke Association, nearly 80% of strokes are preventable. The most effective way to reduce your risk is to make healthy lifestyle changes now.
Adopt a healthy lifestyle
- Choose healthy foods and drinks. Avoid saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sugar and foods high in sodium
- Lose weight or maintain a healthy weight
- Move more and sit less. Regular exercise can help keep other health issues at bay
- Do not smoke or quit smoking. Smoking damages the heart and blood vessels and increases blood pressure
- Limit alcohol consumption. Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure and raise triglyceride levels
- Reduce stress levels. Stress can contribute to unhealthy behaviors like overeating, lack of activity and smoking
- Regularly check cholesterol and blood pressure levels
- Track your regular doctor visits
Manage chronic conditions with your healthcare team
- Control diabetes and manage it as recommended by your doctor
- Monitor and manage high blood pressure
- Treat heart conditions like coronary heart disease or atrial fibrillation
- Take your medications as directed by your doctor
Get more stroke facts and learn more about signs and symptoms.
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