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  • Influence of general practice opening hours on delay in seeking medical attention after transient ischaemic attack (TIA) and minor stroke: prospective population based study.

    19 February 2018

    OBJECTIVE: To assess the influence of general practice opening hours on healthcare seeking behaviour after transient ischaemic attack (TIA) and minor stroke and feasibility of clinical assessment within 24 hours of symptom onset. DESIGN: Population based prospective incidence study (Oxford vascular study). SETTING: Nine general practices in Oxfordshire. PARTICIPANTS: 91 000 patients followed from 1 April 2002 to 31 March 2006. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Events that occurred overnight and at weekends (out of hours) and events that occurred during surgery hours. RESULTS: Among 359 patients with TIA and 434 with minor stroke, the median (interquartile range) time to call a general practitioner after an event during surgery hours was 4.0 (1.0-45.5) hours, and 68% of patients with events during surgery hours called within 24 hours of onset of symptoms. Median (interquartile range) time to call a general practitioner after events out of hours was 24.8 (9.0-54.5) hours for patients who waited to contact their registered practice compared with 1.0 (0.3-2.6) hour in those who used an emergency general practitioner service (P<0.001). In patients with events out of hours who waited to see their own general practitioner, seeking attention within 24 hours was considerably less likely for events at weekends than weekdays (odds ratio 0.10, 95% confidence interval 0.05 to 0.21): 70% with events Monday to Friday, 33% on Sundays, and none on Saturdays. Thirteen patients who had events out of hours and did not seek emergency care had a recurrent stroke before they sought medical attention. A primary care centre open 8 am-8 pm seven days a week would have offered cover to 73 patients who waited until surgery hours to call their general practitioner, reducing median delay from 50.1 hours to 4.0 hours in that group and increasing those calling within 24 hours from 34% to 68%. CONCLUSIONS: General practitioners' opening hours influence patients' healthcare seeking behaviour after TIA and minor stroke. Current opening hours can increase delay in assessment. Improved access to primary care and public education about the need for emergency care are required if the relevant targets in the national stroke strategy are to be met.

  • Influence of general practice opening hours on delay in seeking medical attention after transient ischaemic attack (TIA) and minor stroke: prospective population based study.

    12 January 2018

    OBJECTIVE: To assess the influence of general practice opening hours on healthcare seeking behaviour after transient ischaemic attack (TIA) and minor stroke and feasibility of clinical assessment within 24 hours of symptom onset. DESIGN: Population based prospective incidence study (Oxford vascular study). SETTING: Nine general practices in Oxfordshire. PARTICIPANTS: 91 000 patients followed from 1 April 2002 to 31 March 2006. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Events that occurred overnight and at weekends (out of hours) and events that occurred during surgery hours. RESULTS: Among 359 patients with TIA and 434 with minor stroke, the median (interquartile range) time to call a general practitioner after an event during surgery hours was 4.0 (1.0-45.5) hours, and 68% of patients with events during surgery hours called within 24 hours of onset of symptoms. Median (interquartile range) time to call a general practitioner after events out of hours was 24.8 (9.0-54.5) hours for patients who waited to contact their registered practice compared with 1.0 (0.3-2.6) hour in those who used an emergency general practitioner service (P < 0.001). In patients with events out of hours who waited to see their own general practitioner, seeking attention within 24 hours was considerably less likely for events at weekends than weekdays (odds ratio 0.10, 95% confidence interval 0.05 to 0.21): 70% with events Monday to Friday, 33% on Sundays, and none on Saturdays. Thirteen patients who had events out of hours and did not seek emergency care had a recurrent stroke before they sought medical attention. A primary care centre open 8 am-8 pm seven days a week would have offered cover to 73 patients who waited until surgery hours to call their general practitioner, reducing median delay from 50.1 hours to 4.0 hours in that group and increasing those calling within 24 hours from 34% to 68%. CONCLUSIONS: General practitioners' opening hours influence patients' healthcare seeking behaviour after TIA and minor stroke. Current opening hours can increase delay in assessment. Improved access to primary care and public education about the need for emergency care are required if the relevant targets in the national stroke strategy are to be met.

  • Validation and refinement of scores to predict very early stroke risk after transient ischaemic attack.

    19 February 2018

    BACKGROUND: We aimed to validate two similar existing prognostic scores for early risk of stroke after transient ischaemic attack (TIA) and to derive and validate a unified score optimised for prediction of 2-day stroke risk to inform emergency management. METHODS: The California and ABCD scores were validated in four independent groups of patients (n=2893) diagnosed with TIA in emergency departments and clinics in defined populations in the USA and UK. Prognostic value was quantified with c statistics. The two groups used to derive the original scores (n=1916) were used to derive a new unified score based on logistic regression. FINDINGS: The two existing scores predicted the risk of stroke similarly in each of the four validation cohorts, for stroke risks at 2 days, 7 days, and 90 days (c statistics 0.60-0.81). In both derivation groups, c statistics were improved for a unified score based on five factors (age >or=60 years [1 point]; blood pressure >or=140/90 mm Hg [1]; clinical features: unilateral weakness [2], speech impairment without weakness [1]; duration >or=60 min [2] or 10-59 min [1]; and diabetes [1]). This score, ABCD(2), validated well (c statistics 0.62-0.83); overall, 1012 (21%) of patients were classified as high risk (score 6-7, 8.1% 2-day risk), 2169 (45%) as moderate risk (score 4-5, 4.1%), and 1628 (34%) as low risk (score 0-3, 1.0%). IMPLICATIONS: Existing prognostic scores for stroke risk after TIA validate well on multiple independent cohorts, but the unified ABCD(2) score is likely to be most predictive. Patients at high risk need immediate evaluation to optimise stroke prevention.

  • Risk of stroke early after transient ischaemic attack: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

    16 February 2018

    BACKGROUND: Stroke is often preceded by transient ischaemic attack (TIA), but studies of stroke risk after TIA are logistically difficult and have yielded conflicting results. However, reliable estimation of this risk is necessary for planning effective service provision, clinical trials, and public education. We therefore did a systematic review of all studies of stroke risk early after TIA. METHODS: All studies of stroke risk within 7 days of TIA were identified by use of electronic databases and by hand searches of reference lists, relevant journals, and conference abstracts. Stroke risks at 2 days and 7 days after TIA were calculated overall and analyses for heterogeneity were done, if possible, after categorisation by study method, setting, population, and treatment. FINDINGS: 18 independent cohorts were included, which reported stroke risk in 10 126 TIA patients. The pooled stroke risk was 5.2% (95% CI 3.9-6.5) at 7 days, but there was substantial heterogeneity between studies (p<0.0001), with risks ranging from 0% to 12.8%. However, the risks reported in individual studies over different durations of follow-up were highly correlated (0-7 days vs 8-90 days, r=0.89, p<0.0001), and the heterogeneity between studies was almost fully explained by study method, setting, and treatment. The lowest risks were seen in studies of emergency treatment in specialist stroke services (0.9% [95% CI 0.0-1.9], four studies) and the highest risks in population-based studies without urgent treatment (11.0% [8.6-13.5], three studies). Results were similar for stroke risk at 2 days. INTERPRETATION: The reported early risks of stroke after TIA were highly heterogeneous, but this could be largely accounted for by differences in study method, setting, and treatment, with lowest risks in studies of emergency treatment in specialist stroke services.

  • Substantial underestimation of the need for outpatient services for TIA and minor stroke.

    2 February 2018

    OBJECTIVES: To measure the number of all transient ischaemic attack (TIAs) and minor strokes managed as outpatients, and hence, the need for 'TIA clinics' in comparison to current estimates of 20,000 TIAs annually in England, based on previous rates of incident-definite events. SUBJECTS: All individuals with confirmed or suspected TIA or stroke between 2002 and 2005 in a population-based study of 91,105 individuals in Oxfordshire, UK. OUTCOME MEASURES: Numbers, rates, and risks of recurrent stroke for incident-definite TIA, any probable or definite TIA, stroke, and all referrals of suspected TIA and stroke, stratified according to inpatient versus outpatient management. RESULTS: Of 1,174 confirmed or suspected events ascertained, 729 (62.1%) were managed as outpatients and 445 (37.9%) as inpatients. Among 757 probable or definite events, 432 (57%) were managed as outpatients. Incident-definite TIAs accounted for only 18% of all referrals to outpatient services. Annual rates per 1,000 population were 2.98 (2.77-3.2) for all referrals to outpatient services and 1.88 (1.71-2.06) for inpatient admissions. Of 73 recurrent strokes within 90 days of initial TIA or stroke, 48 (65.8%) occurred in the outpatient population. Applying these rates to the population of England yields approximately 150,000 new referrals annually to TIA clinics with about 10,000 early recurrent strokes. CONCLUSION: More patients with TIA or stroke are managed as outpatients than inpatients in the UK, and this group has the majority of possibly preventable early recurrent strokes. Current projections of need for TIA clinics in England substantially underestimate the overall requirement for outpatient services.

  • Risk prediction after TIA: the ABCD system and other methods.

    12 December 2017

    Transient ischemic attack (TIA) is common in the elderly and total numbers are likely to increase with the aging of the population. The risk of stroke early after TIA has recently been shown to be approximately 5 percent at 7 days and 10 to 15 percent at 3 months, while overall cardiovascular risk is increased in the longer term. The ABCD system (Age, Blood pressure, Clinical features, Duration of symptoms) is a clinical score that can be rapidly worked out at the time of presentation and reliably predicts early risk of stroke. It can be used in patient triage to secondary care, informing public education and in the effective targeting of secondary prevention. The vascular territory and etiology of the TIA and results of cerebral imaging can also be used to predict early risk of stroke but the degree of the interaction between all these factors is uncertain.

  • Patient behavior immediately after transient ischemic attack according to clinical characteristics, perception of the event, and predicted risk of stroke.

    28 January 2018

    BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Little research has been done on patients' behavior after transient ischemic attack (TIA). Recent data on the high early risk of stroke after TIA mean that emergency action after TIA is essential for effective secondary prevention. We therefore studied patients' behavior immediately after TIA according to their perceptions, clinical characteristics, and predicted stroke risk. METHODS: Consecutive patients with TIA participating in the Oxford Vascular Study or attending dedicated hospital clinics in Oxfordshire, UK, were interviewed. Predicted stroke risk was calculated using 2 validated scores. RESULTS: Of 241 patients, 107 (44.4%) sought medical attention within hours of the event, although only 24 of these attended the emergency department. A total of 107 (44.4%) delayed seeking medical attention for > or =1 day. Correct recognition of symptoms (42.2% of patients) was not associated with less delay. However, patients with motor symptoms or duration of symptoms > or =1 hour were more likely to seek emergency attention (hazard ratio, 2.1; 95% CI, 1.4 to 3.2; P=0.00005), as were those at higher predicted stroke risk (P=0.001). The other main correlate with delay was the day of the week on which the TIA occurred (P<0.001), with greater delays at the weekend. Delay was unrelated to age, sex, or other vascular risk factors. CONCLUSIONS: Many patients delay seeking medical attention after a TIA irrespective of correct recognition of symptoms, although patients at higher predicted risk of stroke do act more quickly. Public education about both the urgency and nature of TIA is required.

  • Prognosis and management in the first few days after a transient ischemic attack or minor ischaemic stroke.

    8 December 2017

    The risk of recurrent stroke during the first few days after a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or minor stroke is very much higher than previously estimated. However, there is considerable international variation in how patients with suspected TIA or minor stroke are managed in the acute phase, some healthcare systems providing immediate emergency inpatient care and others providing non-emergency outpatient clinic assessment. This review considers what is known about the early prognosis after TIA and minor ischaemic stroke, what factors identify individuals at particularly high early risk of stroke, and what evidence there is that urgent preventive treatment is likely to be effective in reducing the early risk of stroke.