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New test to detect stroke risk

26th January 2007

A test has been developed to help predict the risk of stroke for people who have had a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or "mini-stroke", neurologists have announced.

According to a study in this week's Lancet medical journal, the test works by examining a patient's blood pressure, unilateral weakness and speech impairment.

It also takes into account age and whether they suffer from diabetes to calculate the risk-level of having a stroke.

TIAs are serious conditions caused by a reduction in blood and oxygen supply to the brain. They affect about 240,000 people in the US every year and 70,000 in the UK.

The symptoms last up to a few hours, are similar to those suffered with a stroke and include loss of vision, leg and arm weakness, slurred speech and loss of consciousness.

Because the symptoms vary in severity and do not last longer than 24 hours, many people who suffer from TIAs do not go to the doctor – half of whom will have a stroke within the first two days, and up to 20 per cent within the following 90 days.

"Right now, there is no consensus as to who gets admitted to the hospital or has other medical intervention after a TIA," said lead study author S Claiborne Johnston, a neurologist at UCSF Medical Center and associate professor in the UCSF School of Medicine.

Another report published today found that MRI scans were more effective than the widely used CT scan for detecting acute stroke.