LONDON, July 2 (Xinhua) -- British scientists have identified a genetic variant associated with an increased risk of stroke and heart attack, according to a new study published on Wednesday.
The findings published in the American scientific journal PLOS ONE, suggest a new genetic link caused by a variation in a protein known as 'glycoprotein IIIa'. The genetic variant is found in platelets, a type of blood cell involved in the formation of blood clots.
According to researchers at King's College London, their study represents the first large-scale meta-analysis of the literature, including over 50,000 participants from a combined total of 82 studies.
They found that carrying the PlA2 genetic variant of glycoprotein IIIa was associated with an increased risk of stroke caused by blood clot. This equated to a higher risk of around 10-15 per cent. The genetic variant was also associated with an increased risk of heart attack.
"The genetic risk found in stroke and heart attack patients is likely to be caused by over-active platelets". Albert Ferro, Professor at King's College London, explained that: "Under normal circumstances, platelets help your body form clots to stop bleeding, but in these patients platelet activation has the undesired effect of causing their narrowed arteries to be blocked off completely."
Experts said that, these findings may, in future, allow clinicians to identify patients who are at particularly high risk of stroke or heart attack by looking for the genetic variant.