The National Institutes of Health has given a $3.9 million grant to researchers trying to find out whether it is possible to predict strokes.

Researchers at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Oregon Health Sciences University will use the money to conduct a five-year study on 600 to 800 people.The work follows a five-year study of 430 people that showed stroke victims had thicker than normal blood. That study suggested this thick blood may have made them more prone to stroke, heart disease and other diseases.

The new study will try to determine whether thicker-blooded patients have more strokes, heart attacks or vascular problems than their healthy counterparts, OHSU spokeswoman Lee Husk said.

Researchers hope ultimately to develop a test to diagnose those at risk for stroke.

Stroke is the third-leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer.