Background: Although much progress has been made in the acute ischemic stroke care in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), there is a paucity of specific data on the early management of TIA patients. Patients with TIA present a substantial risk of stroke during the first few hours of symptom onset, when secondary prevention therapies should be urgently initiated. Therefore, hospital admission may offer some advantages for early management. Our aim was to evaluate the benefit of hospital admission of TIA patients in a LMIC.
Methods: All TIA patients who arrived at our emergency room (ER) between March 2015 to March 2016 were admitted to the hospital. All patients were submitted to the following diagnostic protocol: brain imaging, intra and extracranial vascular imaging, echocardiography (TT and or TEE) and ECG. Baseline, imaging characteristics and early outcome were analyzed.
Results: Among 845 consecutive stroke patients evaluated at our ER, 12.8% were diagnosed as TIA. Although vascular risk factors and presentation with weakness or speech disturbances were frequent findings among our TIA patients, only 1 in 5 patients (17.4%) required specific treatment (anticoagulation or carotid revascularization). In addition, half of our patients were classified as cryptogenic TIA. The average length of stay was 7.03 and there were no in-hospital stroke or death. We did not detect significant differences in demographics, risk factors and imaging features between patients that received standard vs. specific treatment.
Conclusions: Many TIA patients with mild symptoms may not have reached our ER and among those who were evaluated some may not have required hospital admission. Clustering of risk factors among TIA patients may not be a variable helpful to identify high-risk patients in LMIC. A 24/7 emergency TIA clinic may be an option to improve urgent treatment and reduce acute care cost.