06/25/2009 - News

Mini-Strokes (or Transient Ischemic Attacks) Should be Treated

By: June Chen, MD


The American Heart Association (AHA) and American Stroke Association (ASA) jointly released a new guideline document advocating for the urgent treatment of transient ischemic attacks (TIAs, or mini-strokes).

This guideline document was published online May 7, 2009 and will appear in the June print issue of Stroke.


Traditionally, TIA has been defined as sudden neurological deficit lasting less than 24 hours. In this new scientific statement, the AHA/ASA suggest an updated, more specific definition where TIA is ‘a transient episode of neurological dysfunction caused by focal brain, spinal cord, or retinal ischemia, without acute infarction.’ Ischemia is a restriction in blood supply, and infarction is tissue death due to a loss of adequate blood supply.


The authors of the statement point out that the risk for stroke after a TIA is higher than previously thought, with 10-15% of patients having a stroke with 3 months. Of these patients, nearly half have a stroke within 48 hours. The scientific statement urges physicians to treat TIA with the same urgency and care as acute strokes, including MRI of the brain, non-invasive imaging of the blood vessels in the neck and the brain, electrocardiogram (EKG) and prolonged cardiac monitoring, and routine blood vessels. The authors indicate that hospitalization is reasonable for some patients, especially if evaluation cannot be rapidly completed on an outpatient basis.



Stroke. Published online before print May 7, 2009.

Created on: 05/18/2009
Reviewed on: 06/25/2009

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