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A diagnosis of transient ischemic attack (TIA) leads to inadequate care and should be eliminated, according to a panel of neurologists at the American Stroke Association's 29th International Stroke Conference, held in San Diego, Calif. Instead, people who'd now be diagnosed with TIAs should be treated as stroke patients.


A team of researchers analyzed the cost of 24 hours of care for patients hospitalized with a TIA diagnosis in 11 hospitals in the San Francisco, Calif., area. They found that when patients with TIA were admitted rather than sent home, a new nonhemorrhagic stroke could be identified within an hour and promptly treated with fibrinolytics. This resulted in fewer complications and a shorter hospital stay, compared with patients sent home after TIA symptoms resolved. They concluded that admitting and treating patients for TIA was cost-effective as well as medically justified.


Researchers say that separating TIA from stroke makes no sense because they're steps in the progression of the same disorder. In fact, health care providers may be lulled into complacency when TIA signs resolve, causing patients to miss out on early treatment.