Posted by Andy Jagoda, MD in: What's Your Diagnosis , trackback
Was it a “mini stroke”? — ED Management of Transient Ischemic Attack
A 59-year-old obese woman presents to your community hospital ED after experiencing a distinct episode in which her left hand felt “clumsy,” along with a left facial droop and left-sided numbness. She denies experiencing frank weakness and states that the symptoms resolved in less than 10 minutes. She mentions that she experienced a similar episode 2 weeks prior, and is concerned because both her parents and an older sibling experienced disabling ischemic strokes. Her vital signs and point-of-care glucose were normal, and her ECG showed sinus rhythm. Her physical examination, including a detailed neurologic examination, was largely unrevealing, with no facial asymmetry, unilateral weakness, sensory loss, or dysmetria appreciated. A noncontrast cranial CT scan of the brain was remarkable only for nonspecific subcortical and periventricular white matter changes without evidence of acute or old infarction, mass, or hemorrhage. Although she is relieved to learn that she has not had a stroke, she is concerned that this may be a precursor of a more serious event. She does not have a primary care physician and states that she has not seen a physician in several years. She asks whether this was a “mini stroke” and, if yes, what the chances are that she will have a stroke in the future?
The 59-year-old obese patient’s detailed description of abrupt, negative symptoms appropriately raised your concern for a right anterior circulation TIA. You calculated her ABCD2 score as a 2, correctly counting her reported facial droop and unilateral weakness. Knowing recent risk stratification data, you counseled her that her 7-day stroke risk was very low; however, you also remembered that the periventricular white matter hypointensities on CT may be indicative of underlying small-vessel cerebrovascular disease, and her report of multiple recent episodes raised your concern. Since your observation unit was at capacity, you insisted on hospital admission. As an inpatient, she underwent MRI/MRA, revealing extensive small-vessel disease and multiple lacunar infarctions of varying ages. She was seen by a neurologist, started on antiplatelet therapy, and counseled on diet and exercise strategies. She remained stroke-free at a 3-month follow-up appointment.
Did you get it right?
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