Stroke Risk and MTHFR

Stroke is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. More adults are disabled by strokes each year than by any other cause. So it’s safe to say that stroke is a serious problem which effects the health and lives of millions of people. There is no single cause of stroke, many things come together to cause stroke. One thing that can contribute to the risk of stroke is the 677 MTHFR anomaly.

What is stroke?
Stroke is the medical term for brain damage caused by loss of blood flow to a portion of the brain. There are several immediate causes of stroke, including blood clots, burst blood vessels and other vascular problems.

When blood is cut off to a part of the brain, for whatever reason, cells in the brain begin to die. if enough brain cells die, than a person will lose the abilities controlled by that part of the brain. The area of the brain that a stroke affects determines the degree and types of problems the stroke will cause. A minor stroke in the part of the brain that controls movement may leave a person with restricted range of motion while a severe stroke in the same area might cause paralysis.

What is the connection between MTHFR and stroke?
Numerous studies have been done to determine whether or not MTHFR anomalies increase the risk of stroke. So far, it appears that people who suffer from strokes are more likely to have the 677 MTHFR anomaly than people the same age who don’t suffer from strokes. While this doesn’t prove that 677 MTHFR increases the risk of stroke, it does suggest that there is a connection.

In addition to studies looking directly at MTHFR and stroke, there is the proven connection between homocysteinaemia and stroke. The 677 MTHFR anomaly is one cause of homocysteinaemia, and homocysteinaemia increases the risk of stroke. So having the 677 MTHFR anomaly can increase the risk of stroke by causing homocysteinaemia.

Researchers are still trying to determine if there is a direct connection between MTHFR and stroke. That is, does 677 MTHFR only cause stroke by causing homocysteinaemia, or do any MTHFR anomalies influence stroke risk in other ways?

I or someone in my family has had a stroke, should I get tested for MTHFR anomalies?
There are many causes of stroke, and many causes of homocysteinaemia. If you are suffering from any other health problems that may be caused by MTHFR anomalies, it might be worthwhile to look into MTHFR testing. If you are not suffering from any other MTHFR related-health problems, start by getting tested for homocysteinaemia. If that test comes back positive, then talk with your doctor about MTHFR as a possible cause. If it comes back negative, you need to look at other risk factors for stroke.

I have 677 MTHFR, will I have a stroke?
Stroke isn’t caused by any single thing. A stroke happens as a result of genetic predisposition, lifestyle choices, environment and general health. If you have 677 MTHFR you can reduce your stroke risk by keeping your blood pressure low and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If you know you have 677 MTHFR, you should probably get tested for homocysteinaemia, and talk with your doctor about treatment options.

Having 677 MTHFR can increase you chances of having a stroke. However many people with 677 MTHFR never have a stroke, because they reduce other risk factors through diet and lifestyle choices.