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Opportunity missed: TIA patients receive less aggressive attention than those with stroke

NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 3 Transient ischemic attack (TIA) patients receive less aggressive diagnostic testing, treatment and education compared to stroke patients, which is a missed opportunity to prevent permanent disability or death, researchers reported at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2005.

"There needs to be a paradigm shift in the way the public and physicians look at TIA," said study lead author Bhuvaneswari Dandapani, M.D., medical director of the stroke center at Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, Fla. "TIA is perceived as a much less serious condition than stroke by the public and by professionals."

About one-third of people who have TIAs, which are sometimes called "mini-strokes" will have a major stroke within five years unless they have preventive therapy.

"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," Dandapani said. "For physicians, a TIA represents an opportunity to prevent a catastrophic stroke."

TIA symptoms are the same as stroke symptoms but last only a short time:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body;
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding;
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes;
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; and
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.

    Symptoms occur suddenly and vary widely, with an episode lasting from a few minutes to a few hours.

    The retrospective study evaluated diagnostic tests, therapy and education of 91 TIA patients compared to 94 stroke patients. Patients' average age was 73; most were Caucasian and 58 percent were women. For almost 90 percent of the TIA patients, the TIA was their first. Of the stroke patients, 36 percent had a previous TIA or stroke, while 64 percent were first stroke
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  • Contact: Bridgette McNeill
    bridgette.mcneill@heart.org
    214-706-1135
    American Heart Association
    3-Feb-2005


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