Minor Strokes May Lead to Major Ones
Study: Stroke or Heart Attack Often Follow Within 10 Years
WebMD News Archive
TIA Study continued...
TIAs can precede bigger strokes and other problems, as Agra and colleagues
On average, Agra's participants were 65 years old. They signed up for the
study within three months of their TIA or minor stroke. It's not known if that
was their first such event.
"Our study shows that, roughly 10 years after a presentation of TIA or minor
ischemic stroke, about 60% of patients had died and 54% had experienced at
least one new vascular event," says the study. "Event-free survival after 10
years was 48%."
The risk of stroke is highest immediately following the first event.
However, in the study it declined during the first three years and then
gradually rose again.
Death risk was higher for older participants, as well as those with
diabetes, a history of a heart attack, and past surgery for poor
'Like a Volcano'
The risk may stem in part from increasing age, as well as plaque buildup in
blood vessels, says Graeme Hankey, MD, FRCP, FRACP, of the stroke unit and
neurology department at the University of Western Australia.
Atherosclerosis (the hardening of the arteries) is a risk factor for heart
disease and stroke. It behaves "like a volcano," writes Hankey. That is, it can
seem to lie dormant for a long time before it blows its top by causing sporadic
problems that can have deadly consequences.
In a real volcano, lava is unavoidable. But in the body, you can curb plaque
buildup through diet, exercise, and for some people, medication.
There is room for improvement in long-term prevention strategies in TIA
survivors, say Agra and colleagues.
They don't give many details about prevention methods used by participants,
except that all patients initially took aspirin. The study didn't assign
patients to any particular plan.
After a stroke or TIA, patients are often given blood-thinning or
anticlotting drugs to help avoid future strokes. Lowering blood pressure and
cholesterol, eating healthfully, being active, and following doctors' orders
can also reduce stroke and heart attack risk.