A new study, published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics, finds that a mother’s history of stroke may affect her daughter’s chances of having a heart attack.
Researchers from the University of Oxford looked at 2,200 men and women who had had heart attacks, stroke or some other coronary problem. Overall, more than 24% of those who had had heart disease had a family history of stroke in a first-degree relative, like a parent or sibling. About the same percentage of patients who had had a stroke themselves also had a family history of stroke. (More on Time.com: Do Kids of Divorce Have Strokes More Often?)
But the pattern of association was particularly interesting when broken down by sex. Women who had suffered heart attacks or angina were more than twice as likely to have a maternal history of stroke than stroke history in their father. That link was not found in men with heart disease. The maternal stroke link also persisted regardless of the mother’s history of heart attack.
It’s not clear whether it’s genes or environment that’s playing a role in the mother-daughter stroke-heart attack association, but researchers have long known that heart disease affects men and women differently. Reported HealthDay:
Dr. Tatjana Rundek, an associate professor of neurology, epidemiology and public health at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said that the association between maternal stroke and a daughter’s heart attack is relatively new but that it ties in with other research, including her own, that examines sex differences in cardiovascular risk.
In her own recent study, Rundek said, she found that genetic variations in genes involved in fat metabolism may have gender-dependent effects on plaque in arteries.
Research also has found that women have more systemic inflammation, she said. Inflammation is linked with buildup of fatty deposits in arteries.
Previous research has shown that daughters of stroke patients were more likely to have strokes themselves, but this is the first study to suggest they may also have a greater risk of heart attack.