Silent Myocardial Infarction and Subsequent Ischemic Stroke in the Cardiovascular Health Study

Neurology. 2021 Aug 3;97(5):e436-e443. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000012249. Epub 2021 May 24.


Objective: To test the hypothesis that silent myocardial infarction (MI) is a risk factor for ischemic stroke, we evaluated the association between silent MI and subsequent ischemic stroke in the Cardiovascular Health Study.

Methods: The Cardiovascular Health Study prospectively enrolled community-dwelling individuals ≥65 years of age. We included participants without prevalent stroke or baseline evidence of MI. Our exposures were silent and clinically apparent, overt MI. Silent MI was defined as new evidence of Q-wave MI, without clinical symptoms of MI, on ECGs performed during annual study visits from 1989 to 1999. The primary outcome was incident ischemic stroke. Secondary outcomes were ischemic stroke subtypes: nonlacunar, lacunar, and other/unknown. Cox proportional hazards analysis was used to model the association between time-varying MI status (silent, overt, or no MI) and stroke after adjustment for baseline demographics and vascular risk factors.

Results: Among 4,224 participants, 362 (8.6%) had an incident silent MI, 421 (10.0%) an incident overt MI, and 377 (8.9%) an incident ischemic stroke during a median follow-up of 9.8 years. After adjustment for demographics and comorbidities, silent MI was independently associated with subsequent ischemic stroke (hazard ratio [HR], 1.51; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.03-2.21). Overt MI was associated with ischemic stroke both in the short term (HR, 80; 95% CI, 53-119) and long term (HR, 1.60; 95% CI, 1.04-2.44). In secondary analyses, the association between silent MI and stroke was limited to nonlacunar ischemic stroke (HR, 2.40; 95% CI, 1.36-4.22).

Conclusion: In a community-based sample, we found an association between silent MI and ischemic stroke.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Demography
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Independent Living
  • Ischemic Stroke / epidemiology
  • Ischemic Stroke / etiology*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Myocardial Infarction / complications*
  • Myocardial Infarction / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Vascular Diseases / complications