Coronary heart disease (angina and heart attack) and stroke can be caused by the same problem – atherosclerosis. This is when your arteries become narrowed by a gradual build-up of fatty material (called atheroma) within their walls.
If a piece of atheroma breaks away from one of your arteries it will lead to a blood clot forming.
If you have atrial fibrillation (AF) your risk of stroke is increased by around four to five times. This is because AF increases the risk of a blood clot forming inside the chambers of your heart. This clot can travel through your bloodstream and block the blood supply to your brain - causing a stroke. A transient ischaemic attack (also called a TIA or mini-stroke) happens when there is a temporary blockage in the blood supply to the brain. A TIA doesn’t cause permanent damage to your brain and the symptoms usually pass within 24 hours.