The Ottawa Hospital Stroke Clinic has a new prevention clinic geared towards helping patients who have suffered minor strokes avoid developing major strokes. Patients’ symptoms are assessed in the emergency department of the hospital, after which the patients are referred to the stroke clinic. There they received brain imaging, medication adjustment, counseling about stroke risk factors and in some cases surgery.
In order to avoid the damage and trauma associated with a full-blown stroke, doctors at the clinic handle patients experiencing transient ischemic attacks (TIA). These mild strokes cause symptoms that include facial numbness, or numbness in the arm or leg. The symptoms typically last less than one day before resolving themselves. Although they do not leave disabling neurological effects, TIAs are an early marker for stroke risk.
Assessing these early signs is imperative. Dr. Mukul Sharma, the Deputy Director of the Canadian Stroke Network, and his co-authors found that 3.2% of patients at the clinic who experienced TIA went on to develop a major stroke within 90 days. At other centres this figure was 10%.
The Ottawa Hospital Stroke clinic uses a triaging system in order to prioritise patients with the highest stroke risk. Dr. Mukul and his co-authors said: “We believe that the reduced stroke rate can be attributed to the system of care that combined the [emergency department] care and the clinic process”.