Stroke Patients Run Risk of Hidden Heart Disease

Researchers say they need to be checked even if they show no symptoms

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FRIDAY, Sept. 12, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Doctors need to evaluate certain stroke patients for hidden heart risk even if those patients show no symptoms.

That warning comes from an American Heart Association/American Stroke Association scientific statement published in the current issue of Circulation.

The statement notes that as many as 40 percent of patients who suffer "mini-strokes" and ischemic strokes have silent heart disease.

Ischemic stroke, transient ischemic stroke (TIA -- also called "mini-stroke") and coronary heart disease all result from vascular disease, where there is restricted blood flow to the heart or brain. A panel of experts found a link between silent heart disease and TIA and a link between silent heart disease and ischemic strokes originating in large blood vessels to the brain.

"Compared to patients with strokes caused by blockage in small vessels in the brain, patients with TIA or large-vessel strokes have a higher likelihood of also having coronary artery disease, whether or not they have a clear history of heart disease," lead author Dr. Robert Adams says in a news release.

"There are data to indicate that some people already have significant heart disease by the time they have a stroke even though they don't have any recognized symptoms of heart disease," Adams says.

More information

Learn more about stroke from the Mayo Clinic.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Sept. 8, 2003

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