Mini-Strokes Need More Medical Attention

Fewer tests and treatments raise risks for full-blown stroke later, study says

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THURSDAY, Feb. 3, 2005 (HealthDayNews) -- People who suffer a "mini-stroke", or transient ischemic attack (TIA), receive less aggressive medical attention in terms of testing, treatment and education than patients with full-blown stroke do, researchers report.

That's sobering news, they say, because any failure to devote attention to TIA undermines efforts to prevent disabling or even fatal strokes later on.

"There needs to be a paradigm shift in the way the public and physicians look at TIA," lead author Dr. Bhuvaneswari Dandapani, medical director of the stroke center at Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, Fla., said in a prepared statement.

He and his colleagues compared treatment received by 91 TIA patients and 94 stroke patients. A far lower percentage (54 percent) of TIA patients received ultrasound tests compared with stroke patients (76 percent). The study also found that 35 percent of TIA patients received some kind of education about stroke and stroke warning signs, compared with 67 percent of stroke patients.

The study was presented Feb. 3 at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference in New Orleans.

About a third of people who suffer from a mini-stroke will have a major stroke within five years unless they receive preventive therapy, experts say. TIA symptoms are similar to stroke symptoms but last only a short time.

"The public fails to understand that experiencing a TIA is a medical emergency, and those who have symptoms should seek attention in the emergency room. For physicians, a TIA represents an opportunity to prevent a catastrophic stroke," Dandapani said.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about TIA.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Feb. 3, 2005

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