Mini Strokes May Shorten Life By 20 Percent

Mini strokes tend to shorten life span among older patients

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

(RxWiki News) After a mini stroke, the main concern is usually the risk of an ischemic stroke. New research suggests such an event may also reduce your life expectancy by 20 percent.

The findings reinforce the importance for individuals to carefully manage their lifestyles and be mindful of risk factors following a mini stroke, or transient ischemic attack.

"Exercise daily, eat healthy and quit smoking to live longer."

Melina Gattellari, a senior lecturer at the School of Public Health and Community Medicine in The University of New South Wales and Ingham Institute in Australia, said that patients who experience a mini stroke will not die from it, but will maintain a high risk of early stroke and an increased risk of future problems that could reduce their life expectancy.

Investigators followed 22,157 adults hospitalized with a mini stroke in Australia between July 2000 and July 2007. They tracked medical records of the patients for an average of two years, a median of 4.1 years.

Patients studied were older adults, with a median age of 78 among female participants and 73 among the male participants. 24 percent were younger than age 65, and 19 percent were older than 85.

Investigators also gathered death registry data through June 2009 to compare death rates among study participants to the general population.

One year after hospitalization for a mini stroke, 91.5 percent of patients were still alive as compared to 95 percent in the general population. Five years later the survival of patients who had a transient ischemic attack was 13.2 percent lower than expected with 67.2 percent still living versus 77.4 percent in the general population.

Researchers found that nine years after the beginning of the study, survival among patients who had a mini stroke was 20 percent lower than expected. Mini strokes were most likely to affect the life expectancy of patients older than 65, though the risk increased with age. Patients over the age of 85 were 11 times more likely to die than those under the age of 50.

Gattellari was surprised by the finding since she had expected that the reverse may be true -- that survival rates in older transient ischemic attack patients would be similar to older individuals in the general population. It had been suspected that other factors may have had a greater impact on survival.

Individuals who had experienced a mini stroke who also suffered from congestive heart failure were more than three times more likely to die, while heart arrhythmia atrial fibrillation doubled the risk of death, as did a prior hospitalization.

The clinical study was recently published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

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Review Date: 
November 11, 2011
Last Updated:
November 12, 2011