New Rapid TIA Assessment & Treatment Center
Enabled by a grant from National Stroke
A Transient Ischemic Attack or TIA,
as it is called for short, is the technical term for what is often referred
to as a "mini-stroke." It
is an interruption, brief in duration, in the flow of blood to a portion
of the brain. TIAs come on suddenly and usually last between two to fifteen
minutes, with symptoms disappearing within 24 hours. These include: sudden
weakness or numbness, severe headache, confusion, loss of vision and
trouble speaking. Approximately 300,000 individuals suffer a TIA each
year. A TIA precedes 15-20% of all strokes and is a warning sign that
a stroke may be imminent. The risk of having a stoke after a TIA is greatest
within the first 24 hours. Getting swift medical attention is critical.
Several issues have been identified that interfere with a TIA patient
being treated quickly. A TIA patient may ignore their symptoms thinking
they are not serious. Sometimes a patient may not tell a doctor until
a routine visit that they have experienced TIA symptoms. A doctor's
clinic may not have the ability to treat a TIA patient quickly. Emergency
Departments often have neither the diagnostic equipment, nor the expertise
to quickly evaluate a patient's need and initiate appropriate therapy.
The Brain Attack Team at the University of Maryland Medical Center has
created a new community service model for the rapid evaluation and treatment
of patients experiencing a TIA. Funding provided by the National Stroke
Council has enabled equipping a center within the hospital's Emergency
Department to provide: 1) a complete neurological examination and diagnostic
evaluation of the patient and 2) the initiation of appropriate treatment
within 24 hours of admission. This service, known as RATE (Rapid
Assessment of Transient Ischemic Attack Etiology), will be provided by an interdisciplinary
team of specialists representing Cardiology, Vascular Surgery, Emergency
Medicine, Neurology, Neuroradiology, and Neurosurgery.
This cutting edge approach to the treatment of TIA and stroke is the
first of its kind in the United States. The service is expected to have
a significant impact on decreasing the rate of recurrent TIA and stroke.
It promises to offer highest quality specialty care to patients, and
function as a resource to referring physicians within a tri-state area.
It will hopefully serve as a model that can be replicated in Emergency
Departments throughout the country.