TIA: It's an Emergency
1 in 20 With TIA Suffers Stroke Within 1 Week
Nov. 12, 2007 -- One in 20 people who suffers a transient ischemic attack -- TIA -- has a stroke
within seven days, a new study confirms.
TIAs are like strokes except for one thing -- people fully recover from TIAs and there is no permanent brain
damage. How dangerous are TIAs? Different studies have come up with
Now Matthew Giles, DPhil, and Peter M. Rothwell, FRCP, of the stroke
prevention research unit at the University of Oxford, England, have put all
the numbers together. It turns out that different studies have looked at
different populations treated in different places in different ways.
But when they lumped all major studies together, Giles and Rothwell find
that a person who suffers a TIA has more than a one in 20 risk of having a
stroke within one week. That drops to about a one in 100 risk if a person gets
emergency care immediately after a TIA.
"The risk is considerable. A TIA is a medical emergency," Giles
tells WebMD. "People are not very good at recognizing that what they had is
a TIA or minor stroke. And even if they do recognize it correctly, they don't
always seek care right away."
Getting immediate care is essential, says Ralph L. Sacco, MD, professor and
chairman of neurology at the University of Miami.
"This study and others are telling us that if TIAs are diagnosed and
treated quickly, we can make really big differences in outcome," Sacco
tells WebMD. "A TIA is to stroke what unstable angina is to heart
disease. We need to figure out right away what is wrong and get people on
the proper treatment to reduce that risk of stroke -- which is highest in the
early days after a TIA."
Rapid medical care after a TIA can reduce the risk of stroke by 80%, says
Larry Goldstein, MD, director of the stroke center at Duke University.
"The message we have been putting out is that a TIA is a medical
emergency. There is a high risk for going on to a stroke," Goldstein tells
WebMD. "At least a third of the time, it turns out that a TIA is a minor
stroke with complete resolution of symptoms. We should approach TIA the same way as stroke.
So we try to treat them both the same."
of a TIA are the same as the symptoms of a stroke. They include:
- Sudden weakness on one side of the body
- Inability to move part or all of one side of the body
- Numbness or tingling on one side of the body
- Trouble speaking or understanding what others say
- Dizziness, staggering, or fainting
- Sudden loss of strength in the legs
Any one of these symptoms may signal a TIA.
The Giles and Rothwell study appears in the early online issue of The