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First Stroke Can Lead to Major Heart Problems

By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

Researchers recently found women and men have a much higher risk for serious heart problems after a first stroke compared to those who do not suffer a stroke. This was true even for patients who experienced a first stroke but showed no obvious signs of underlying heart disease.

Canadian investigators studied more than 93,000 people 66 years of age or older in Ontario. The cohort included 9,500 men and 12,500 women who had experienced an ischemic stroke. No subject exhibited any apparent signs of heart disease. However, after suffering their first stroke, the risk for a serious heart incident (e.g., heart attack, cardiovascular death) 30 days later was 23 times higher in men and 30 times higher in women. Even one year later, those who had suffered their first stroke still were twice as likely to experience a major heart event vs. subjects who had not suffered a stroke.

The study authors speculated the connection between first stroke and serious heart problems was related to risk factors such as hypertension, smoking, or diabetes (i.e., the risk factors that can cause various cardiovascular and neurological disorders). But because they observed major cardiac problems after a stroke even in patients without underlying heart disease, the investigators could not draw definitive conclusions. While calling for more research, the authors urged clinicians to follow up with stroke patients even closer.

Stroke is an often-discussed subject across many Relias Media publications. Using a wide-angle lens, this can range anywhere between patient preference for informed consent in acute stroke to connections between a vegetarian diet and stroke risk.

Much of this coverage focuses heavily on connections between cardiology and neurology. This could be anticoagulation decisions in atrial fibrillation, setting proper blood pressure levels to prevent stroke, or the careful use of dual antiplatelet therapy following a stroke.

Relias Media’s stroke coverage is collected in the popular book, Stroke 2019: Excellence in Diagnosis in Care. Episode 13 of the podcast series “Rounds With Relias” includes tips for providers looking to boost stroke prevention efforts, improve treatment for victims, and avoid malpractice suits.

For more critical analysis of the latest clinical research in cardiovascular medicine, check out recent issues of Clinical Cardiology Alert. For evidence-based summaries of the latest clinical neurology research, check out new issues of Neurology Alert.