Background: Genetic and environmental factors may be of importance for stroke risk. We assessed the prevalence of stroke and vascular risk factors among first-degree relatives and spouses of stroke patients and control subjects.
Methods: As a part of the Lund Stroke Register study, we asked 925 consecutive patients with first-ever stroke and 286 control subjects to complete a questionnaire about all their first-degree relatives and spouses. The questionnaires addressed whether these relatives had been affected by stroke or TIA, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes mellitus, and if they were smokers.
Results: A total of 606 patients and 261 control subjects returned the questionnaire, providing information on 4,972 first-degree relatives and 738 spouses. The prevalence of stroke or TIA was 12.3% among first-degree relatives of patients and 7.5% among first-degree relatives of control subjects (OR 1.74, 95% CI 1.36-2.22). Corresponding results for hypertension were 21.0 and 16.7% (OR 1.33, 95% CI 1.10-1.60). The prevalences of heart disease, diabetes mellitus and smoking did not differ significantly between first-degree relatives of patients and control subjects. Spouses of patients and control subjects had similar prevalences of stroke or TIA and vascular risk factors.
Conclusions: The prevalences of stroke or TIA and hypertension are higher among first-degree relatives of stroke patients than among first-degree relatives of control subjects. This, and the lack of differences between spouses of patients and control subjects, indicates that an increased risk of stroke may in part be explained by heritability of hypertension.
Copyright 2005 S. Karger AG, Basel.