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Stroke Survivors in Danger of Another Attack

New expert guidelines say equal attention must be paid to full and 'mini' stroke

SUNDAY, Feb. 5, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- The number one risk facing a stroke survivor, or a survivor of a "mini-stroke," is a subsequent stroke, according to a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

The statement includes revised guidelines for prevention of recurrent strokes and mini-strokes. The new guidelines mark a major shift from earlier recommendations by experts that stroke and mini-stroke -- officially known as a "transient ischemic attack," or TIA -- be treated separately.

TIA is a temporary disturbance in the brain that causes stroke-like symptoms, but does not cause permanent damage.

However, "both conditions increase the risk of a subsequent stroke, and both require similar diagnostic workups and treatment," Dr. Ralph L. Sacco, chairman of the American Stroke Association's Stroke Advisory Board and of the association's Secondary Stroke Prevention Guidelines Committee, said in a prepared statement.

"Other documents have split the two conditions out, but we are treating TIA just as seriously as stroke," Sacco said. "For the past few years, we've been trying to get both the public and health-care professionals to treat TIA as aggressively as stroke."

He noted that nearly a third of the estimated 700,000 strokes that occur each year in the United States are recurrent strokes. Stroke and TIA survivors have as much as a 40 percent risk of suffering another stroke within five years after their initial incident.

"The most frequent event that threatens a stroke survivor's quality of life is another stroke, which can cause further disability or death," Sacco said.

The new statement appears in the current issue of Stroke.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about stroke.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Jan. 25, 2006
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