A new study has found that adults born with a heart defect have an increased risk of experiencing stroke. Senior study author, Dr. Ariane Marelli, said, “We knew there was a connection between heart failure and stroke in patients with heart defects, but we were surprised to discover it was the strongest predictor.” What the study did not prove is that having a heart defect causes stroke – it simple can be a predictor or increase a person’s risk.
Stroke rates were examined from 29,000 adults all born with heart defects. These individuals were compared with the general population within Quebec, Canada. Adults with heart defects were nine to 12 times more likely to suffer an ischemic stroke before the age 55. Furthermore, they were two to four times more likely to have an ischemic stroke between 55 and 64 years of age.
Additionally, adults born with heart defects were five to six times more likely to have a hemorrhagic stroke before 55 and three times more likely to experience this type of stroke between 55 and 64.
The researchers also found that nine percent of males and seven percent of females born with heart defects experienced at least one stroke before the age of 65.
First author, Dr. Jonas Lanz, said, “Our study also suggests that other well-known risk factors for stroke – such as irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure – may be under-detected in patients born with a heart defect.”
Adults born with heart defects are advised to get regular checkups with their cardiologists and be monitored for potential stroke. An estimated 129,000 Americans die annually from stroke, making it the fifth leading cause of death.