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Paper of the day - urgent stroke care necessary after TIA

One in 20 patients will have a major stroke within a week of a transient ischaemic attack, say UK researchers.

The researchers reviewed previous studies which had estimated the risk of a major stroke to be anything from 0 to 12.8 per cent within seven days of a TIA.

After combining from results for 10,126 patients and taking account of study methods, they found the actual risk to be 5.2 per cent.

They said inconsistencies between the findings of individual studies could be almost fully explained by differences in study method, treatment and setting.

Patients who had emergency treatment in specialised stroke units after a TIA had the lowest risk of a major stroke - less than 1 per cent. Those that did not have urgent treatment had the highest risk.

Dr Matthew Giles from the stroke prevention research unit as the University of Oxford said: ‘These results support the argument that TIA is a medical emergency and that urgent treatment in specialised units may reduce the risk of subsequent stroke.'

He added that currently services were ‘patchy', so many TIA patients were not receiving appropriate treatment quickly enough.

The research was published early online in The Lancet Neurology December.

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