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1) To evaluate whether transient ischemic attack (TIA) management in emergency departments (EDs) of the Nova Scotia Capital District Health Authority followed Canadian Best Practice Recommendations, and 2) to assess the impact of being followed up in a dedicated outpatient neurovascular clinic.
Retrospective chart review of all patients discharged from EDs in our district from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2012 with a diagnosis of TIA. Cox proportional hazards models, Kaplan-Meier survival curve, and propensity matched analyses were used to evaluate 90-day mortality and readmission.
Of the 686 patients seen in the ED for TIA, 88.3% received computed tomography (CT) scanning, 86.3% received an electrocardiogram (ECG), 35% received vascular imaging within 24 hours of triage, 36% were seen in a neurovascular clinic, and 4.2% experienced stroke, myocardial infarction, or vascular death within 90 days. Rates of antithrombotic use were increased in patients seen in a neurovascular clinic compared to those who were not (94% v. 86.3%, p<0.0001). After adjustment for age, sex, vascular disease risk factors, and stroke symptoms, the risk of readmission for stroke, myocardial infarction, or vascular death was lower for those seen in a neurovascular clinic compared to those who were not (adjusted hazard ratio 0.28; 95% confidence interval 0.08–0.99, p=0.048).
The majority of patients in our study were treated with antithrombotic agents in the ED and investigated with CT and ECG within 24 hours; however, vascular imaging and neurovascular clinic follow-up were underutilized. For those with neurovascular clinic follow-up, there was an association with reduced risk of subsequent stroke, myocardial infarction, or vascular death.
Multiple studies have demonstrated low rates of antithrombotic use, low neuroimaging rates, and high subsequent risk of stroke at 90 days following an emergency department (ED) diagnosis of transient ischemic attack (TIA). This study assessed the use of antithrombotic medications, neuroimaging, and subsequent 90-day stroke rate for patients in a more recent cohort of ED patients discharged home with TIA.
We conducted a 1-year historical cohort study of all patients discharged with a TIA at a tertiary care ED (census 60,000 visits/year), which was one of the four sites participating in one of the aforementioned studies. Data were extracted from paper and electronic records onto standardized data extraction forms. Clinical findings, medications, and tests were recorded.
A total of 211 patients were enrolled in the study. The patients had the following characteristics: the mean age was 71.2 years (SD 13.8 years), 56.9% were female, 53.1% had a history of hypertension, 26.5% had a history of ischemic heart disease, and 17.1% had a previous stroke. The most frequent neurologic deficit was unilateral weakness (53.6%), and most deficits lasted for more than 60 minutes (71.6%). Antithrombotic medications were used for 96.7% of patients at ED discharge. Neuroimaging was conducted in 94.3% of patients while in the ED. Our cohort had a 90-day stroke rate of 1.9%.
This study established that most TIA patients receive neuroimaging in the ED and are started on or maintained on antithrombotic agents. Clinicians are encouraged to ensure that electrocardiography is done routinely and to involve Neurology in follow-up care.
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