Blood Type May Help Predict Stroke Risk Before the Age of 60

March 15, 2023

Summary: Studies have shown that certain health disorders, including diabetic neuropathy and pancreatic pain, are higher in specific blood types. Since people know their blood type from birth, it is a simple and cost-effective way of understanding the risk of various health issues. Now, a new study shows that those with blood type A are at a greater stroke risk than blood type O.

Cardiovascular conditions like ischemic heart attack and stroke are among the leading causes of mortality in the US and globally. Additionally, there is a worrisome stroke trend in young adults, those younger than 60. Of course, lifestyle choices like lack of exercise, wrong dietary choices, and even certain other environmental factors are the main cause of cardiovascular events like stroke. Nonetheless, it is no secret that genetics is a predisposing factor.

For example, those with a family history of heart disease and stroke are also more likely to experience these issues at a younger age. Doctors know a bit about genetic risks. So they can carry out complex genetic scanning or tests to identify the risk. This can prepare young adults better as those with higher stroke risk can take additional measures like lifestyle changes or even prophylactic medical treatment.

However, carrying out genetic scanning of an individual is a cumbersome process, and thus researchers are always looking for simple methods to identify stroke risk in various population groups. One simple way of identifying the risk of various health disorders, including stroke, is to explore if higher stroke risk in young adults has anything to do with blood types. For example, is there any considerable difference between various blood types: A, AB, B, or O?

Blood group type is often associated with specific genetic make. Since most people know their blood type from birth, it is a highly practical and economical way of understanding the risk of various ailments, including stroke. That is why researchers decided to find out if there is any possible relation between blood type and stroke risk. The study exploring the subject was recently published in the journal Neurology. It was a meta-analysis, a kind of study that combines data from previous studies on the subject. Combining data from multiple high-quality studies provides more reliable results. In the study, researchers included 48 studies that included 17,000 stroke patients and 600,000 healthy adults.

The study found that those living with blood type A were more likely to have an early stroke than blood type O. Researchers found that both the risk of early and late stroke was relatively higher in blood type A compared to blood type O. After adjusting for various factors like age and sex, they found that this risk was only moderately high in blood type A. The risk of stroke in blood type A was about 16% compared to those who never had a stroke, and for blood type O, the risk was 12% lower compared to those who never had a stroke.

Though these findings are definitely relevant, they show only moderately high risk. Researchers say that this is not a cause for panic. Those living with blood type A should not be worried, as these findings mean, they should take extra measures like lifestyle interventions, regular screening, and so on. Researchers say that it is a bit perplexing why the risk of stroke in blood type A is higher. Science still does not understand what is causing a higher number of stroke events in such blood types. Researchers think that it may have to do with the higher blood circulation of certain protein types, increasing the risk of developing blood clots in the legs or deep vein thrombosis. Needless to say that future studies must focus on understanding the mechanism behind this increased risk, as it would help find more effective preventive measures.

By Gurpreet Singh Padda, MD, MBA, MHP