Q: Am I at a greater risk for a stroke after a heart attack?
A: The short answer is yes. Risk for ischemic stroke caused by a blood clot is elevated for the first three months following a heart attack. However, through a close evaluation following heart attack or stroke can help address risk factors faster, and therefore help with prevention.
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In terms of treatment, it is likely that a light blood thinner (such as aspirin or another antiplatelet medication) will be prescribed. If atrial fibrillation is detected, stronger blood thinners will be necessary to help prevent stroke. Diabetes and blood pressure will continue to be regulated — possibly, with medication — in addition to following a consistent diet and exercise plan.
However, prevention is always the best medicine
Don’t wait to have a heart attack before taking preventative measures. A yearly physical exam with blood tests and blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol screenings will help your physician to determine your stroke risk. If you are at a higher risk for stroke due to:
- Family history of hypertension.
- High cholesterol.
An ultrasound of your arteries may be done to look for cholesterol buildup, and a more intensive prevention plan may be devised.
– M. Shazam Hussain, MD
Director, Cleveland Clinic Cerebrovascular Center