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New Rapid TIA Assessment & Treatment Center
Enabled by a grant from National Stroke Council

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.



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