A new research has revealed that patients who have suffered a 'mini stroke' are at twice the risk of heart attack than the general population.
These mini-strokes, called transient-ischemic attacks, or TIAs, occur when a blood clot temporarily blocks a blood vessel to the brain.
Although the symptoms are similar to a stroke, a TIA is shorter - usually lasting only minutes or a few hours - and does not cause long-term disability. A TIA, also called a "warning stroke," signals a high risk of a subsequent, larger stroke.
In this study, the risk of heart attack among TIA patients was about 1 percent per year, double that of people who had never had a TIA.
This increased risk persisted for years and was highest among patients under age 60, who were 15 times more likely than non-TIA patients to have a heart attack.
"Physicians and other healthcare providers should be mindful of the increased risk for heart attack after TIA, just as they are about the increased occurrence of stroke," said Robert D. Brown Jr., principal investigator and chair of the neurology department at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
"In the same way that we evaluate the patient to determine the cause of TIA and implement strategies to reduce the occurrence of stroke after a TIA, we should step back and consider whether a stress test or some other screening study for coronary-artery disease should also be performed after a TIA, in an attempt to lessen the occurrence of heart attack."
The study has been reported in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.