A blood test and a brain scan could help people at risk of one of the deadliest forms of strokes.
Scientists have found combining the two tests for patients who have suffered a stroke could help predict the chances of them experiencing a second stroke.
Experts said the new approach could revolutionise the way doctors manage strokes caused by brain bleeding, known as intracerebral haemorrhage (ICH).
ICH accounts for up to 50% of all strokes worldwide.
About half of those affected die within one year.
Researchers used the blood test and brain scan images to detect a condition known as cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA), which is caused by a build-up of a protein known as amyloid in the walls of blood vessels in the brain.
CAA can cause ICH and is linked to a higher risk of further strokes and dementia.
Edinburgh University researchers used computed tomography (CT) scans in more than 100 patients who died following their first ICH.
They collected blood samples to test a gene called APOE, which is linked to CAA.
By combining simple CT scan images with a genetic blood test, researchers could accurately spot if an ICH had been caused by CAA.
Dr Mark Rodrigues, Wellcome Trust Clinical PhD Programme Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Identifying the cause of a brain haemorrhage is important to planning patient care.
“Our findings suggest that the combination of routine CT scanning with APOE gene testing can identify those whose ICH has been caused by CAA – a group who may be more at risk of another ICH or dementia.”
This new approach could help identify people who are at higher risk after their ICH, scientists say.
It could also improve ICH diagnosis in developing countries as CT scanning and blood testing is available worldwide.
The study is published in Lancet Neurology and was funded by the Medical Research Council, Stroke Association and Wellcome Trust.