Mini-Stroke Doubles Risk Of Heart Attack

Mini-Stroke Doubles Risk Of Heart Attack
Reported March 28, 2011

(Ivanhoe Newswire) – Sufferers of mini-strokes are twice more likely to have a heart attack than the general population, as reported in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Mini-strokes, called transient-ischemic attacks (TIAs), are the result of blood clots temporarily blocking vessels, leaving areas of the brain disconnected from the blood supply. TIAs usually only last for a few minutes, or a few hours, and do not cause long-term impairment. However, TIAs usually signal a high risk for a full blown stroke.

The increased risk for a heart attack was greatest among TIA sufferers under the age of 60; they were 15 times more likely to have a heart attack than non TIA patients. This study also revealed that the average time between the first TIA and a heart attack was five years, with little chance for survival.

Dr. Robert D. Brown Jr., M.D., M.P.H., principal investigator of the study, and chair of the neurology department at the Mayo Clinic, Minn. is quoted as saying:

“Physicians and other healthcare providers should be mindful of the increased risk for heart attack after TIA, just as they are about the increased occurrence of stroke. In the same way that we evaluate the patient to determine the cause of TIA and implement strategies to reduce the occurrence of stroke after a TIA, we should step back and consider whether a stress test or some other screening study for coronary-artery disease should also be performed after a TIA, in an attempt to lessen occurrence of heart attack.”

Using a medical records database, the investigators in this study found 456 patients diagnosed with a TIA between 1984 and 1994, and cross-referenced the patient’s information with data on heart attacks through 2006. The results revealed that more patients died from coronary-artery disease than stroke, making coronary-artery disease the primary cause of death among patients.

“In fact, coronary-artery disease is an even grater cause of death after transient-ischemic attacks than stroke is, surprising as it may be. We should use the TIA event not only to provide a warning sign that patients are at a heightened risk of stroke, but are also at increased risk of heart attack, an event that will increase their risk of death after the TIA” as quoted by Dr. Brown.

A few important warning signs for TIA and Stroke are:

• Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, often on one side of the body
• Confusion and trouble speaking or understanding others
• Trouble walking, feeling dizzy and loss of balance or coordination
• Severe headache of unknown cause
• Difficulty seeing

In the presence of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 for immediate medical attention.

SOURCE: Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, published online 3-24-10