People who have suffered a transient ischemic attack (TIA) are twice as likely to have an MI as the general population, making it particularly important for clinicians to screen such patients for signs of heart disease.

Researchers analyzed data from 456 participants of the Rochester Epidemiology Project (mean age: 72 years; 43% men). All subjects had been diagnosed with a TIA between 1985 and 1994 (Stroke. 2011;42:935-940).

By the end of 2006, average annual incidence of MI after TIA was about 1%, or nearly double that of the general population. Male gender, older age, and use of cholesterol-lowering drugs independently increased the risk.

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The average length of time from first TIA to MI was five years. The heart-attack victims were three times more likely to die during study follow-up than were the TIA patients who had no subsequent MI.

Several lifestyle measures can help patients improve cardiovascular health and minimize the chance of developing atrial fibrillation. A team led by Alvaro Alonso MD, MPH, PhD, recently found that overcoming such cardiovascular risk factors as high BP, smoking, and being overweight could potentially prevent more than half of all cases of atrial fibrillation (published online ahead of print by Circulation).