Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Irregular heartbeat doubles risk for 'silent' strokes

05 November 2014, 13:06

Abuja - Atrial fibrillation, a common condition where the heart beats abnormally, may more than double the risk of "silent" strokes, a new review suggests.

Risk for mental impairment

Silent strokes have no signs or symptoms, but can affect thinking and memory. In addition, recent research has shown that atrial fibrillation is associated with a 40 percent increased risk for mental impairment, the researchers noted.

"Patients with atrial fibrillation are at higher risk of developing silent strokes," said review author Dr. Shadi Kalantarian, a resident at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut.

Previous studies have found that silent strokes are associated with a more than threefold increase in the risk for symptomatic stroke and a twofold increase in the risk for dementia, she said.

"The higher prevalence of silent strokes in patients with atrial fibrillation may put this population at a higher risk for mental impairment, future stroke and disability," Kalantarian said.

More than 2.7 million Americans, many of them elderly, experience atrial fibrillation, according to background information in the report.

An electrical disorder

Atrial fibrillation is an electrical disorder that causes the upper chambers of the heart to contract quickly and irregularly. These abnormal contractions allow blood to pool and coagulate in the heart, forming clots that can cause a stroke if they break off and are carried into the brain.

For their study, the researchers reviewed 11 previously published reports that looked at the association between atrial fibrillation and silent strokes in a total of about 5,000 patients.

In this type of study, called a meta-analysis, researchers cull published studies in hopes of finding patterns that support a conclusion or trend. By finding similar trends in a variety of studies, the conclusions can be stronger than what a single study can provide.

While the analysis found an association between atrial fibrillation and an increased risk of silent strokes, it did not prove a cause-and-effect link.

The report was published November 4 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Blood-thinning drugs

Dr. Gregg Fonarow is a professor of cardiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. He said, "Atrial fibrillation is a substantial risk factor for stroke, with patients with atrial fibrillation having a fivefold increased risk of symptomatic stroke."

Studies have suggested that atrial fibrillation is also associated with an increased risk of silent strokes, which can only be detected by brain scans, he said.

To prevent strokes, patients with atrial fibrillation usually take blood-thinning drugs ranging from aspirin to warfarin to newer medications.

The use of blood thinners markedly lowers the risk of stroke, and the benefits greatly outweigh the potential risk of bleeding, Fonarow said.

"While it is highly likely that effective use of blood thinners will reduce the risk of silent stroke as well as symptomatic strokes, further studies are needed to prove the point," he said.

Kalantarian, who conducted the study while at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said that clinical trials are needed to investigate whether diagnosing silent strokes should be a factor in whether blood thinners should be started at the first signs of atrial fibrillation.

- Health24

For the latest on national news, politics, sport, entertainment and more follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page.


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...