The Lancet has published a paper that shows that a simple grading system can predict the risk of stroke during the first 7 days after a TIA (transient ischemic attack). The score system is based on age, blood pressure, clinical features, and duration of symptoms (ABCD).
The Washington Post explains (Lancet’s paper is $30 pay-per-view — we’ll abstain from linking to them):
The new study, published online yesterday by the Lancet because of its importance for clinical care, provides for TIAs a kind of risk-scoring system that many other diseases and syndromes have had for years. It provides a quick way of predicting the future — at least to some extent — and therefore provides doctors a chance to try to prevent impending disaster in some patients.
“This should have been done 50 years ago,” said Peter M. Rothwell, a neurologist at the University of Oxford’s Radcliffe Infirmary, who led the study. “It is really very straightforward research. It could have been a medical-student project.” The usefulness of the information was immediately evident.
When the team looked at the experience of 206 people with TIAs referred to a hospital-based neurology clinic by their primary-care physicians, they found that 14 had suffered strokes before the appointment. The scoring system would have identified all of them as being at high risk of a stroke in the week after their TIA.
By identifying who is at highest risk — and by estimating the magnitude of that risk, which is much higher than previously believed — the British team hopes the study will open the door to more daring research in preventing strokes.