A Recent study has shown that people with Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) are typically undertreated and are not typically given clot-busting drugs. Up to 499 people were studied and data showed that 15 per cent of patients had a life threatening stroke or disability following a history of TIAs.
TIA’s can present as a mini stroke with loss of movement on one side, numbness in the face or limbs and dizziness. Most TIA’s resolve fully within 24 hours- if any symptoms continue after this period, the person is generally considered to have had a stroke.
The article, printed in the American Heart Association journal Stroke showed that TIAs are frequently deemed by doctors as too mild to treat. Their findings showed that patients with TIA should be imaged earlier and be treated more aggressively with thrombolysis regardless of the mildness of symptoms.
Thrombolysis is a treatment that is used to dissolve dangerous clots that can block significant blood flow to the brain and cause serious loss of oxygen to brain tissue. TIA and mini strokes do not routinely receive this treatment because the condition is often not deemed serious enough to warrant it.
In Sydney, despite these recommendations, there is currently limited access to clot busting drugs such as tPa (tissue plasminogen activator). This is due to limited access to the drugs and limited access to having trained staff onsite to deliver the drugs. More regional hospitals do not supply this drug as its effectiveness is significantly reduced within 3 hours post stroke.
At present, GP’s and neurologists may manage TIA’s with anticoagulation medications such as Warfarin, which help to thin the blood and prevent clots from occurring. Warfarin is not without its own side-effects and there is enormous research going into other options. Antiplatelet medications such as aspirin and clopidogrel may also be prescribed to prevent clotting depending on your lifestyle and personal situation.
Either way, the message needs to be changed. TIAs are a serious medical condition and needed to be treated as such in order to prevent future disability, morbidity and mortality. For more information or if you think you have had a recent TIA- book in with your GP for a consult.