People who suffer a stroke are significantly more likely to suffer a major cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack, within the next 30 days, even if they had no underlying heart issues before, a new study has found.
The study involved more than 90,000 adults over the age of 65, 20,000 of whom had suffered a stroke. The other 70,000 had not suffered a stroke, but had similar vascular risk factors and characteristics.
None of the participants had any underlying heart disease prior to the stroke.
The study showed for the first time that men with no underlying heart disease who suffered a stroke, were 25 times more likely to suffer a first-in-life major cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack, cardiac failure or cardiac death, within 30 days, compared to those who did not have a stroke.
Among women, the risk was 23 times higher.
While this risk dropped after 30 days, even one year after the stroke, both men and women were twice as likely to experience a major cardiac event compared to those who did not have a stroke.
The Canadian researchers pointed out that until now, the link between cardiovascular events and stroke was thought to be due to shared risk factors, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. However in this study, both groups that were assessed had the same proportion of risk factors.
"This shows that after taking risk factors into consideration, having experienced a recent stroke was independently associated with the incidence of major adverse cardiac events. This leads us to believe that there are underlying mechanisms linked to stroke that may be causing heart disease," commented lead researcher, Dr Luciano Sposato, of Western University in Ontario.
He said that he hopes these findings will encourage healthcare professionals to watch out for cardiovascular symptoms in people who have recently suffered a stroke, even if they had no underlying heart issues before.
"My hope is that neurologists, cardiologists and scientists can work more closely together on this brain heart connection so that in the future we can understand and target the underlying mechanisms to prevent heart disease after stroke," he added.
Details of these findings are published in the journal, Stroke.
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