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Common blood test may predict risk for second stroke

By Stephen Feller   |   March 2, 2016 at 3:26 PM

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., March 2 (UPI) -- A common blood test for coronary artery disease could be used to predict the risk for having a second stroke, researchers found in a recent study.

High levels of C-Reactive Protein, or CRP, were found in the study to indicate an increased risk for second stroke, which can be paired with genetic variations that even more accurately reveal a patient's risk, according to researchers at the University of Virginia.

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CRP is an enzyme made in the liver in response to inflammation, and is checked in blood tests for patient risk for coronary artery disease, which researchers said makes it an easy way to judge for stroke risk.

"Getting a CRP measure on someone is really simple. It's just a blood draw. You don't have to take something like a biopsy which patients might have an aversion to," Dr. Stephen Williams, a researcher at the University of Virginia, said in a press release. "It's not very expensive, and it's part of routine workups that could be done for patients. However, combined with genetic information, we may have even more power to identify those at greatest risk."

For the study, published in the journal Neurology, researchers analyzed data from the Vitamin Intervention for Stroke Prevention Trial, which included 2,155 patients with a mean age of 66.

The researchers first found CRP levels in the blood positively indicated the risk of a second stroke, then found there is a genetic risk for increased CRP, in addition to genetic indicators of higher risk for stroke, which the researchers said can be used to estimate risk even more accurately.

Even without genetic tests, though, researchers said the blood test is so common that physicians should consider the results for stroke risk, based on their study.

"The biggest risk of death for someone who has already had a stroke is to have another one," Stephen William said. "So it's really important to be able to try and target those individuals who are at the highest risk for the thing that very well may kill them."

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