AHA: “Mini Strokes” May Lead to Disability

The American Heart Association’s journal Stroke has released a study concluding that transient ischemic attacks (TIA), or “mini strokes,” can lead to serious disability. The study highlights a condition that doctors often consider too mild to treat with drugs.

“Our study shows that TIA and minor stroke patients are at significant risk of disability and need early assessment and treatment,” said Shelagh Coutts, M.D., lead author of the study 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.”

Fifteen percent of the 499 patients studied experienced disability 90 days after an episode, and patients with severe, ongoing symptoms are twice as likely to have a disability after 90 days. The greatest threat is to patients suffering recurrent strokes.

“Mini strokes” symptoms vary among patients. Computed tomography (CT) scans showed some patients showed a loss of oxygen in the brain due to narrowed blood vessels, while others reported more severe symptoms. Additionally, women and patients with type 2 diabetes are at a higher risk for TIA.