Huge discovery on strokes could slash deaths

Huge discovery on strokes could slash deaths

Aggressive treatment of mini-strokes could be key to saving lives.

A new study has found that quick action to aggressively treat short-term “mini-strokes” could dramatically slash the odds of a serious stroke.

Even if a person has had muscle weakness or slurred speech for a few seconds — signs of a mini-stroke — it’s best to send that person to the hospital because it could lead to a more serious stroke, according to a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Mini-strokes can be a harbinger of a potentially deadly stroke that could come days later, or even just a few hours later. Quick, aggressive treatment could potentially save the life of someone who suffers from a mini-stroke.

The findings were based on an examination of data from 4,789 patients. The study found evidence that getting in for early treatment could literally be the difference between life and death.

“Previous studies conducted between 1997 and 2003 estimated that the risk of stroke or an acute coronary syndrome was 12 to 20% during the first 3 months after a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or minor stroke,” the paper stated. “The project was designed to describe the contemporary profile, etiologic factors, and outcomes in patients with a TIA or minor ischemic stroke who receive care in health systems that now offer urgent evaluation by stroke specialists.”

In an editorial by Ralph L. Sacco, M.D., and Tatjana Rundek, M.D., Ph.D., the doctors state that stroke prevention and treatment have improved a lot in recent years.

“This study should prompt health care providers and policymakers to make necessary changes in systems of stroke care in order to deliver the most effective care not only to patients with acute stroke, but also to those with a TIA or minor stroke,” they wrote. “The results support the value of organizing specialized units for the care of patients with a TIA or minor stroke where rapid diagnostic evaluations and evidence-based preventive treatments by stroke specialists can be initiated promptly and lead to reduced early and late risks of stroke. Our patients and the public deserve access to the best we can provide to prevent stroke.”

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