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Ministroke, Not A Small Matter

TIA Diagnosis Lulls Patients and Physicians Into False Sense of Security

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"I would admit every patient with TIA to the hospital," says German stroke expert Orell Mielke, MD, at Neurologische Universitatsklinik of Klinikum Manheim in Germany. "It makes no sense to separate TIA from stroke. TIAs and strokes are both accidents in the progression of the same disease," he says.

Mielke presented results of a six-month follow-up of 1,380 TIA patients and 3,850 ischemic stroke patients. At the end of six months, 6.2% of TIA patients had died compared with 16.2% of stroke patients. Twenty-two percent of TIA patients were dependent compared with 41% of stroke patients.

Each among the three researchers agrees the TIA diagnosis is misleading. Johnston says the diagnosis probably contributes to complacency, which actually increases the risk for patients.

"In fact, even though it sounds counterintuitive, TIA patients have an increased risk of deterioration and poor recovery with a stroke [compared with] stroke patients," Johnston says.

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