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.
- f the blood clot blocks an artery to your heart and cuts off the blood supply to your heart muscle, this is a heart attack.
- If the blood clot blocks an artery to your brain and cuts of the blood supply, this is an ischaemic stroke.
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.