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Clogged Arteries Increase the Risk of Stroke

25 Mar 2013
Posted by Heart Consult

A new research published online in Stroke, a journal of American Heart Association reveals that blocked arteries are one of the main factors that increase the risk of stroke.  Study shows that the measure of heart artery blockage mainly the coronary artery calcification (CAC) can assess the incidence of stroke attacks.

Stroke occurs due to the lack of the blood supply to the brain cells, could be due to the clot in the brain (ischemic) or due to the bleeding in the brain (haemorrhagic). Arteries that carry blood to the brain get narrowed due to the excessive build-up of plaque around the walls of the arteries (atherosclerosis), leads to stroke and other cerebrovascular diseases. Patients may lose the ability to speak, may cause dementia, or partial paralysis of the body as a result of a stroke.

Doctors from the University Hospital Essen in Germany studied the measure of plaque deposited in the heart artery walls of 4,180 patients using a non-invasive electron beam-computed tomography. The follow-up study of patients for 8 years showed 92 strokes of which, 82 are ischemic and 10 were haemorrhagic. Research also showed that patients with coronary artery calcification are more likely to get stroke than those without CAC. The measure of CAC level higher than 400 Hounsfield units (HU is a measure of density of tissue on the CT scan) increases the risk by three folds than the levels under 399 HU. The results showed that the stroke occurred around the age of 65 in those with pre-existing conditions like diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and excess body weight.

Researchers concluded that the CAC measures were very useful in predicting stroke in patients less than 65 years of age, and the measures accurately predicted the stroke regardless of other risk factors like atrial fibrillation in both male and female patients. However, the researchers suggest that CAC levels and other factors like atrial fibrillation should also be considered in assessing the patients’ risk of stroke.