As reported by a study in the BMJ, a device which is made in Ottawa can help scientists to predict patients who have risky ministrokes. People with mini-strokes are at higher risks of developing a major stroke within a week.

Risky Ministroke or TIA

The ministroke is called a transient ischemic attack (TIA). It happens when part of the brain undergoes a reduction of blood flow for a short period. If brain cells couldn’t get ample nutrients and oxygen from the blood, they die. Unlike a stroke, a mini-stroke doesn’t cause permanent disabilities. If you know the signs and symptoms of a mini-stroke, you should get treatment as soon as possible.

TIA or transient ischemic attack seems like a warning of a full stroke. So you shouldn’t ignore it.

As stated by an emergency physician and senior scientist from The Ottawa Hospital and professor at the University of Ottawa, “Mini-strokes can be a warning that a larger stroke is coming.” “Thankfully, we’re very good at preventing subsequent strokes if patients come to the emergency department promptly.”

The symptoms of both stroke and mini-stroke are similar that include loss of vision, drooping face, weakness in the leg or arm, and jumbled or slurred speech. But symptoms of  risky mini-stroke last for minutes to hours and it doesn’t cause permanent damage.

If a transient ischemic attack is not treated then there is a risk of a 1 in 10 chance of having a potential stroke. 

Dr. Perry stated that “TIA or mini-strokes are quite common — we see one to two patients a day at The Ottawa Hospital emergency departments.” He further added”We developed the Canadian TIA Score to help us better identify who is at greatest risk of stroke and needs care most urgently. On the flip side, it also helps us gives patients at low risk some peace of mind.”

The Canadian TIA Score utilized 13 pieces of information gathered in the emergency department to categorize patients, in which low is less than 0.5 %, the medium is 2.3 %, or high is considered as 6 %. They are at risk of having a stroke within a week.

Dr Perry stated, “For high-risk patients we do absolutely everything we can while they are in the ED, including diagnostic imaging, starting treatment and bringing in a neurologist.” 

“For medium-risk patients, we do similar things but refer them to a stroke prevention clinic, where they can see a neurologist in a day or two. Low-risk patients can safely start their treatment as a neurology outpatient or with their family doctor.”

The device was verified in 13 Canadian emergency departments for morethan five years. Around 7,607 patients participated who had a minor stroke or TIA. 1293 (17%) were classified as low risk, 5,400 as(71%) were classified as medium risk, and 989 (13%) as high risk.

On the whole, 108 patients (1.4%) in this research had a subsequent stroke within the week, and 83 patients(1.1%) have undergone surgery to increase blood flow in their neck to prevent the stroke.

The study proved that the Canadian TIA Score perfectly classified patients into 3 risk groups and worked effectively better than the current ABCD2 score. That score only classifies TIA patients as low or high risk of a stroke that is not completely helpful to doctors.

Dr Perry said, “The Canadian TIA Score can now be safely used in emergency departments, where it can help physicians make the best care decisions for patients with mini-strokes.” 

Peter Nephin was a patient who needed urgent care and he explained his experience. “It was a scary time, but the staff at the hospital help calm you down. I felt like I was being well looked after -they had my life in their hands.” A surgery was done to remove the blockage. Now he is recovered and has no symptoms from the TIA.

People should be aware that a transient ischemic attack that it is a medical emergency. People who experience symptoms need to call 911 or have someone who can seek help from the medical department.

 Dr Perry stated, “Three quarters of the patients in our study said this was their first mini-stroke, and over a third arrived by ambulance.”

“It’s a reminder that you should always take stroke symptoms seriously, even if they seem to pass quickly.”

The Canadian TIA Score is available online with the Ottawa Rules app.