Stroke and Heart Disease
Several types of heart disease are risk factors for stroke. Patients who have the following heart problems are at greater risk of stroke than those without these conditions:
- Atrial fibrillation (AFib)
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart attack due to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
- Heart failure
AFib and Stroke
People with AFib are five times more likely to have a stroke than those without it, and for some, the risk can be even greater. Patients with heart valve disease causing AFib are at the highest risk of having a stroke.
AFib is a disorder that causes an irregular heartbeat. In many instances, there are no symptoms. Some people experience heart palpitations, which are sometimes described as a racing heart or a heart flutter. They can last a few seconds, or, if more chronic, they can last longer and have increased frequency.
When AFib is left untreated, blood flow in the top part of the heart (known as the atria) slows down. Sometimes, the slow blood forms a clot that can leave the heart and travel throughout the body. This is known in medical terms as an embolic event. When one of these clots reaches the brain, it can block a blood vessel and cause a stroke.
AFib can be monitored and treated with medication or electrical stimulation. Our stroke experts work with cardiologists to help determine the most appropriate course of treatment to manage AFib and potentially prevent a major stroke from occurring.
Common Risk Factors for Stroke and Heart Disease
Stroke and heart disease share a number of risk factors. These include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Physical inactivity
- Excess weight or obesity
- Family history of heart disease and stroke