Cardiac Rehab Beneficial for Mini Strokes

Cardiac rehabilitation helpful for mini or mild stroke patients

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Cardiac rehabilitation has long known to benefit stroke patients by warding off future heart problems. That same rehab also would be beneficial for patients who experienced a mild or mini stroke.

A transient ischemic attack, also called a mini stroke, causes little or no permanent brain injury, but it is considered a warning sign and patients can be at risk for a more debilitating stroke.

"Ask your cardiologist about rehab after a stroke."

Neville Suskin, a senior investigator of the study, medical director of the London Health Sciences Centre Cardiac Rehabilitation & Secondary Prevention Program and associate professor of medicine at the University of Western Ontario in London, said that many of the risk factors that are of concern after a heart attack such as high cholesterol, smoking, hypertension and low capacity for exercise also are of concern after a mini stroke.

Researchers assessed cardiac risk factors in 100 patients who had experienced a mild or mini stroke in the previous year. The patients participated in cardiac rehabilitation for about seven and a half months, and then underwent a reassessment for risk factors.

Of the participants, 80 completed the rehab process. Investigators assessed the effectiveness of the rehabilitation process, which included exercise, drug management, nutrition education, smoking cessation, and psychological issues such as stress, anxiety and depression.  A control group received the usual standard of care.

Patients were found to have significant improvement in their risk profile with their peak exercise capacity improved by an average of 31 percent. In addition, total cholesterol decreased by an average 11.6 mg/dl and their waist circumference decreased by one inch.

Average body weight decreased by 3.2 pounds, systolic blood pressure decreased by 3 mmHg and a significant number of patients quit smoking. At least 11 patients, who were at a moderate or high risk of dying within the next year at the beginning of the program, were recategorized to the lowest death risk after completing cardiac rehab.

The research was published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

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Review Date: 
September 25, 2011
Last Updated:
September 26, 2011