Having a Stroke Symptom and Don’t Know It?

Stroke symptoms can increase your risk of future strokes and death

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

(RxWiki News) Having a stroke increases your risks for future strokes and death. Even having had a symptom of stroke can increase your risks.

A recent study found that patients who experienced stroke symptoms had an increased risk for a future stroke. The study authors recommended adding health screening questions about stroke symptoms to help manage stroke risks.

"Report any stroke symptoms to your doctor. "

A stroke happens when the blood flow to the brain is interrupted. Sometimes the strokes are small and the symptoms are not severe enough to notice. For example, a weakness in an arm of leg can be a stroke symptom that goes unnoticed.

Dr. Suzanne Judd, PhD, of Department of Biostatistics, University of Birmingham, Alabama, and colleagues led the study to explore the risks of future strokes in people that reported stroke symptoms.

Researchers used data from a huge study called "The Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences Study (REGARDS)". The study followed 30,239 adults over the age of 45 from 2003 to 2007. It collected data on stroke and other medical conditions.

The participants' self-reported stroke symptoms and history of stroke data allowed researchers to place them into different groups. The first group included patients that had recent strokes. The second group were those patients that reported a stroke in their past.

The last groups were those that had a transient ischemic attack or experienced stroke symptoms. A transient ischemic attack is like a stroke, in that blood flow to the brain stops. It is different from a stoke because it is brief and there is no brain damage. 

The results suggested that participants with a history of stroke or stoke symptoms overall had an increased risk of future stroke. The study authors then looked at the different groups of self-reported stroke or stroke symptoms. These groups were compared to participants that did not report any stroke history or symptoms. 

The stroke symptoms group was 1.20 times more likely to have a future stroke, although this was not a significant increase. The other three groups had significant increases in their risk of future strokes. The transient ischemic attack group was 1.73 times more likely to have a future stroke. The past stroke group was 2.23 times more likely. The recent stroke group was 2.85 times more likely to have a future stroke.

The authors commented, "[These] findings have potentially important public health importance if other studies can demonstrate that special interventions in these patient groups are beneficial at reducing stroke."

The study - titled "Self-Report of Stroke, Transient Ischemic Attack, or Stroke Symptoms and Risk of Future Stroke in the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) Study" - was published in the journal Stroke. It was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institute of Health, Department of Health and Human Services and an American Reinvestment and Recovery Act supplement. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 13, 2013
Last Updated:
August 19, 2013