LONDON, ONT. -- Stoke affects more than 62,000 Canadians each year, and according to a new study, can lead to some dangerous heart conditions.

“Not only do cardiac arrhythmias happen after stroke, but so do other cardiovascular complications such as heart attack, heart failure or chest pain, without actually having a heart attack,” says associate professor at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Dr. Luciano Sposato.

Sposato says the risk of these heart complications happening after stroke are quite high.

“The risk is much, much higher in the first 30 days, the first month after stroke it's much higher, actually 25-fold higher, and then in one year it's four times higher, and by two years its two times higher.”

The research team examined data from more than 90,000 adults across Ontario over the age of 65.

Within that data there were two groups; the first group were stroke patients and the second hadn’t had a stroke but did have similar vascular risk factors.

The conclusion is that pre-existing heart condition or not, all signs pointed to a stroke being a major risk factor for heart complications.

“The brain is connected to the heart though nerves that go up to the heart and in the heart there are neurones,” says Sposato. “While it’s useful for regulating the heart, at the same time there are neurotransmitters that can travel through those nerves and reach the heart, which can damage the heart itself.”

Sposato says these findings really support the idea that anyone who has a stroke needs to be on high alert for heart complications.

“I would say they should not underestimate cardiovascular symptoms that may happen after stroke. If they notice something they should seek help, go to their doctors or emerg to ask if what they are experiencing is actually a cardiovascular complication.”

The next step in this study will be to take these findings and look at treatment options for stroke patients that would help prevent a cardiovascular complication.