Having diabetes is a risk factor for many other health conditions, such as stroke.
In a new study, researchers found that a blood test could help predict stroke risk in people with type 2 diabetes.
The research was conducted by a team from Michigan Medicine.
It is estimated that every 40 seconds an American has a stroke.
To be successful at preventing strokes from occurring, it is important to accurately identify those who are likely to have a stroke.
In that way, doctors can use stroke prevention therapies to help people who have a high stroke risk.
In the new study, the team measured levels of a blood protein in patients with diabetes, who had not previously had a stroke, to predict their risk of experiencing a stroke in the future.
They hypothesized that before an individual has a stroke, they often have ‘small strokes’ that do not cause clinical symptoms.
But these small strokes may result in the release of proteins that are associated with brain cell death, and these proteins can be measured in blood.
One of these proteins is neurofilament light chain (NfL).
The researchers examined blood samples from 113 diabetic patients who were stroke-free at the time of study enrollment but developed a stroke during a seven-year follow-up period.
They also examined 250 diabetic patients who were stroke-free at study enrollment and did not develop a stroke during the seven-year follow-up period.
The researchers found that levels of NfL in the blood appeared to contribute to stroke risk.
People who developed a stroke had blood levels of NfL that were about 43% higher than those who did not develop a stroke
People with the highest NfL levels were 10 times more likely to develop a stroke during the seven-year follow-up period, than those with low levels of NfL.
The strength of the association between the blood test and stroke was larger than the researchers were expecting.
The research team also found that adding NfL levels to the current method of predicting stroke, the Framingham Stroke Risk Score, increased the method’s accuracy.
This is the first study reporting the usefulness of this blood test in predicting stroke occurrence.
Future work is needed to confirm the team’s findings.
The lead author of the study is Frederick Korley, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of emergency medicine.
The study is published in Stroke.
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