University of Virginia researchers say they’re looking at how genetic variants contribute to an elevated risk of stroke in African-Americans compared to people of European descent.

According to UVA Health, a large international team of scientists analyzed stroke-risk genes in African-Americans. In the research, they discovered a common variation near the HNF1A gene was strongly associated with increased risk in those of African ancestry.

Brad Worrall, division chief for vascular neurology at UVA Health, said the discovery helps them identify the role genes contribute to stroke.

“The genes that are identified help us understand pathways that are involved in stroke risk, in the development of damage during the process of stroke, and potentially stroke risk,” Worrall said.

Worrall also said this discovery helps them continue their research to develop new treatments in the future.

The study involved more than 22,000 people. Stroke is called the leading cause of adult disability in the United States, but they tend to affect African-Americans more often and at younger ages.

The researchers say they also identified 29 other gene variants, which occur at 24 different locations in human chromosomes, that may influence stroke risk. Of these variants, 16 appear to also influence stroke risk in other populations.

Should we be worried about this?