"Mini-strokes" could precede major strokes

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted March 21, 2005

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Nearly a quarter of ischemic stroke victims experience a transient ischemic attack in the week before their stroke, according to a study published in the March 8 issue of Neurology.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 2,000 stroke patients participating in two population-based studies and two randomized trials. They found that 23% had a TIA in the week before with 17% occurring on the day of the stroke. Nine percent had one on the previous day and 43% experienced one in the preceding week.

Authors of the paper say this finding indicates the need to initiate treatment rapidly after a TIA, which usually lasts only five minutes and does not cause lasting harm, to prevent more serious damage further down the road.

"This study indicates that the timing of the TIA is critical, and the most effective treatments should be initiated within hours of a TIA in order to prevent a major attack," said Dr. Peter M. Rothwell, a researcher in the Dept. of Clinical Neurology at Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford, England.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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