Blood Test Offers Potential for Predicting Stroke Risk and Cognitive Decline


A recent study conducted by UCLA Health suggests that a simple blood test could serve as an effective tool for determining an individual's susceptibility to stroke and cognitive decline later in life. Published in the journal Stroke, the study focused on measuring concentrations of inflammatory molecules in the blood to calculate a risk score for cerebral small vessel disease, a common precursor to stroke and cognitive impairment among the elderly.

Traditionally, assessing the risk of cerebral vascular diseases has relied on a combination of imaging techniques, family history, demographics, and other risk factors. However, this approach often identifies risk only after a person has experienced a stroke or related event. By contrast, the new study proposes a proactive method of risk assessment by analyzing inflammatory molecules in the blood of individuals who have not yet experienced such events.

The study specifically examined a network of inflammatory molecules known as the interleukin-18 (IL-18) network, which has been linked to cerebral small vessel disease and stroke risk in previous research. However, individual molecule concentrations within this network can vary due to factors like illness, limiting their predictive accuracy. Building on previous research, the study aimed to determine whether the IL-18 network could reliably assess stroke risk and cognitive decline susceptibility.

Using data from the Framingham Heart Study—a long-term investigation tracking the health of thousands of individuals over several generations—the researchers analyzed blood samples and medical histories to create a mathematical model for predicting stroke risk based on IL-18 network molecule concentrations. Results showed that individuals with higher risk scores, as determined by the model, were significantly more likely to experience a stroke during their lifetime.

However, the study also highlighted the need for further research to understand how these risk scores can be modified or reduced to prevent strokes and related events. Dr. Jason Hinman, the lead author of the study, emphasized the importance of early detection and intervention in primary care settings to prevent strokes before they occur.

In summary, the study underscores the potential of a blood test utilizing the IL-18 network to predict stroke risk and cognitive decline, offering a promising avenue for proactive healthcare interventions in stroke prevention.

Fuente: News Medical