Hispanics experience stroke twice as often as Caucasians and new research from CUMC's Northern Manhattan Family Study suggests genetic predisposition may be related to stroke risk in Hispanics.
The findings show that about 40 percent of variability in carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) – the combined thickness of the inner and intermediate layers of the carotid artery – is accounted for by genes in Caribbean Hispanics. The results were published in the October 2004 issue of Stroke.
Carotid IMT is a measure of subclinical vascular disease and a strong predictor of stroke, as well as myocardial infarction and vascular death. The risk factor applies to all ethnicities but may be particularly important for Hispanics because they tend to have a greater prevalence of hypertension and diabetes, important determinants of IMT.
Finding those genes, and genes for other risk factors, could lead to drugs to prevent stroke or screening tests to predict risk, say the paper's lead authors Suh-Hang Hank Juo, M.D, Ph.D., assistant professor of epidemiology in the Columbia Genome Center, and Ralph Sacco, M.D., professor of neurology and epidemiology in the Sergievsky Center.
The researchers also found that obesity and carotid IMT share common genes. The researchers say that if a therapy is found to reduce IMT, that therapy may also reduce obesity.