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Heart Disease Health Center

Stroke Risk Higher After Heart Attack

First Month After Heart Attack Is Especially Risky, Study Shows
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Deeper Details

Most strokes seen in the study were ischemic strokes, the most common type of stroke. In an ischemic stroke, a clot blocks blood flow to the affected part of the brain.

The higher stroke risk was seen in patients throughout the study. It didn't matter if the heart attacks had happened in the late 1970s or 20 years later, the researchers report.

They note several groups that were particularly likely to have a stroke after heart attack:

  • Older patients
  • People with diabetes
  • People who had already had a stroke

Most participants were white. The findings might not apply to people of other racial and ethnic backgrounds, the researchers write.

What Would Help?

The researchers don't draw any firm conclusions about medicines that might cut stroke risk in heart attack survivors. They didn't directly test any medications on the patients.

However, they suggest studying anticlotting drugs, though they note that those drugs raise the risk of bleeding.

In the news release, Roger mentions three ways to avoid heart disease in the first place:

  • Not smoking
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Eating healthfully

Seek Immediate Care for Stroke

Stroke is the No. 3 cause of death and the most common cause of disability among U.S. adults, the researchers write.

Getting immediate medical help at the first sign of a possible heart attack or stroke is a must. Some stroke medications must be given within a few hours of the onset of symptoms.

Stroke symptoms may include:

  • Sudden weakness or numbness in the face, arm, or leg on one side of the body.
  • Abrupt loss of vision, strength, coordination, sensation, speech, or the ability to understand speech. These symptoms may become more marked over time.
  • Sudden dimness of vision, especially in one eye.
  • Sudden loss of balance, possibly accompanied by vomiting, nausea, fever, hiccups, or trouble with swallowing.
  • Sudden and severe headache with no other cause followed rapidly by loss of consciousness -- indications of a stroke due to bleeding.
  • Brief loss of consciousness.
  • Unexplained dizziness or sudden falls.

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