Study: 'Mini strokes' should be treated

Sept. 13, 2012 at 10:38 PM
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CALGARY, Alberta, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- Doctors often say transient ischemic attacks, or "mini strokes," are too mild to treat, but they can lead to serious disability, Canadian researchers say.

Lead author Shelagh Coutts of the Foothills Hospital in Calgary, Alberta, said TIA and minor stroke patients don't typically receive this thrombolysis -- a treatment used to dissolve clots and restore healthy blood flow to the brain -- because the condition is frequently not deemed serious enough.

"Our study shows that TIA and minor stroke patients are at significant risk of disability and need early assessment and treatment," Coutts said in a statement. "We should be imaging patients earlier and be more aggressive in treating patients with thrombolysis if we can see a blockage no matter how minor the symptoms are."

Among 499 patients, 15 percent had at least minor disability 90 days after their original "mini stroke," Coutts said. Minor disability was defined as being unable to carry out previous activities but capable of and handling personal affairs without assistance, Coutts said.

The study, published in the journal Stroke, found computed tomography scans showed some "mini stroke" patients had narrowed blood vessels in the brain, and others reported ongoing or worsening symptoms. Those patients were more than twice as likely to have disability at 90 days.

Coutts suggested thrombolysis treatment should be considered in these patients.

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