Monthly Archives: February 2011

If Mom Had a Stroke, Daughter May Be Prone to Heart Attack

If Mom Had a Stroke, Daughter May Be Prone to Heart Attack

Researchers can’t say if genes or environment play bigger role to explain the link.

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 2 (HealthDay News) — A mother’s history of stroke can help predict a daughter’s chances of not only having a stroke but also her chances of having a heart attack, new research shows.

“Our new study shows that stroke in mothers is associated with heart attacks in daughters,” said Dr. Amitava Banerjee, a clinical research associate at the Stroke Prevention Research Unit at the University of Oxford, in England.

In other words, a stroke in mothers or other first-degree relatives can help identify women at increased risk for heart attacks — even if their mother has not had a heart attack.

The research, published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics, shows an association, but a cause-and-effect relationship has yet to be determined, Banerjee said.

Putting the research in perspective, he said: “We know that, in men and women, stroke or heart attack in the parents increases the risk of heart attack. Previous studies have not looked at these issues by sex of the parent or sex of the patient and have not looked in a ‘prospective’ way — that is, they have not followed up a population over time.”

In the new study, Banerjee and his colleagues evaluated 2,210 men and women who had either heart attacks or other coronary syndromes or strokes. Complete family histories were not available for all of them. But the researchers found that more than 24 percent of those who’d had heart attacks and angina — and about the same percentage of patients who had had strokes or transient ischemic attacks (called TIAs, or mini-strokes) — had a history of stroke in one or more first-degree relatives, such as their parents or siblings.

This indicates that stroke history in parents and siblings is as important to a person’s risk for a heart attack as it is to stroke risk, according to Banerjee.

Maternal stroke was more common than paternal stroke history in women with heart attacks or unstable angina. Women heart patients were more than twice as likely to have a mother who’d had a stroke than a father who did. The same link was not found in men with heart problems, however.

Exactly why mothers’ history of stroke seems to play a role in their daughters’ heart attacks is not known. Banerjee said it’s not possible to say whether environment or genes are playing the larger role in the mother-daughter association.

The link found between a mother’s stroke history and a daughter’s heart attack and stroke held even if the mother had only a stroke, with no heart attack history, Banerjee said.

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.

What the new findings mean for women whose mothers had a stroke, Rundek said, is the need to “understand your own personal risk of stroke or heart attack.” Be sure you know your numbers — blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol levels, she said, and change behaviors to improve the numbers if need be.

Banerjee added that “women whose mothers have had stroke — particularly before the age of 65 — should have their blood pressure and cholesterol checked, and think about lifestyle factors such as smoking more than women without family history of stroke.”

More information

The American Stroke Association has more about risk factors for stroke.  External Links Disclaimer Logo

(SOURCES: Amitava Banerjee, M.R.C.P., M.P.H., clinical research fellow, Stroke Prevention Research Unit, University of Oxford, England; Tatjana Rundek, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor, neurology, epidemiology and public health, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami; February 2011, Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics )

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Tips for Preventing Yoga Injuries

I found this discussion on Yoga Alliance’s LinkedIn group. It draws on one of my favorite Sutras—one I use regularly when starting to teach a new class.

Stephen Parker • The most important point about prevention of injury is that you never push your capacity. In Yoga Sutras II.46 & 47 Patanjali describes asana as “steady and comfortable” and that comfort is achieved through prayatna-shaithilya, “relaxation of effort” and anantya-samapatti, “coalescence with infinitude,” a phrase implying entry into samadhi. (Samapatti is essentially synonymous with samadhi in the Samadhi-pada.) By practicing in a meditative and contemplative way, always remaining two steps short of your capacity, you never have to push your body; it’s capacity will naturally expand before your efforts without pushing. Needless to say, this model doesn’t well fit a class where one is trying to get through 15 postures in 60 minutes. Two postures is more like it.

In the early 1970’s my master, Swami Rama, said, “American yoga is all ha- yoga (energetic solar force). There is no -tha (contemplative lunar force)!” He made it his mission to try to put the -tha back in hatha, but, unfortunately, American hatha-yoga practice has continued to move in the other direction, away from meditative depth.

Women’s Heart Attacks are Different


woman with weight on her chest


Other Heart Attack Symptoms to Watch Out For:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Light-headedness or sudden dizziness
  • Unusual upper body pain, or discomfort in one or both arms, back, shoulder, neck, jaw or upper part of the stomach
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat

If you experience any one of these symptoms, don’t make excuses for them. Make the call to 9-1-1. Don’t miss a beat.

Although women often think of heart attack as something that affects mainly men, heart disease is the number one killer of women. Every 90 seconds, a woman in the United States has a heart attack. The Office on Women’s Health has launched a new campaign to educate women about the symptoms of a heart attack. To learn more, visit