Overview

Stroke and vascular disease illustration

Stroke is a complex neurological syndrome which can be divided into two main types: (i) ischemic, where there is a sudden decrease (blockage) in blood flow to regions of the brain and (ii) hemorrhagic, caused by abnormal bleeding in the brain. Ischemic strokes are by far the most common, accounting for between 80 and 90 percent of all strokes. Ischemic stroke can be sub-divided dependent upon whether the blockage occurs in a large or small artery (large/small-vessel occlusive disease) and if an embolus travels from the heart to lodge in a cerebral blood vessel (cardiogenic stroke).

This heterogenic phenotype associated with stroke is indicative of the synergistic effects of genetic and environmental determinants. Smoking, or being the first degree relative of a stroke patient, is reported to independently almost double the risk of ischemic stroke, supporting the hypothesis that stroke is a result of an intricate interplay between the genes and environment. The mission of our laboratory is to identify those genetic factors and elucidate their role in risk of vascular disease.