Often called “mini” strokes, transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) function much like a full stroke. While the symptoms of a TIA are similar to a full stroke, TIAs differ in that they are often much shorter and may only last minutes. In addition, TIAs do not generally cause any damage or disability. A full stroke, on the other hand, frequently leads to disability or some type of permanent damage.
It’s generally accepted that TIAs are a warning sign that the individual may suffer a stroke in the future. Approximately half of all TIA patients have a stroke within one year of the TIA event. According to the Mayo Clinic, about one-third of all TIA patients will suffer a stroke at some time in the future. According to the results of a new study, TIAs not only predict the likelihood of a future stroke, but are also a predictor of future heart attack.
Funded by the Mayo Clinic, the study focused on 456 TIA patients, with the TIA occurring between 1985 and 1994. Fifty-seven percent of the patients were women and 43 percent men. Most patients had at least one risk factor for heart disease or stroke such as smoking, high blood pressure or currently being under treatment to prevent formation of blood clots. The patient records examined were part of the Rochester Epidemiology Project (REP).
Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death for TIA patients. With respect to the risk of future heart attack, research found that TIA patients:
*over 60 are 15 times more likely to suffer future heart attack
*have 50 percent greater risk of heart attack
*have an increase risk of heart attack at a rate of about one percent per year
*had heart attacks that occurred within five years
*were three times more likely to die if they had a heart attack
In addition, study results indentified other factors contributing to an increase risk of heart attack such as gender, age and cholesterol-lowering treatments. Men, older patients and those currently under treatment for high cholesterol were all found to have a higher risk of heart attack after TIA.