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Study of ‘minor strokes’ to prevent major impact

Mar 28 2014

Professor Chris Levi

A community-based clinical trial that monitors people who have experienced a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) – colloquially known as a ‘minor stroke’ or ‘funny turn’ – is being expanded by researchers from the HMRI Stroke Group.

TIAs can be a warning sign of an impending stroke, yet little is known about how patients are subsequently managed. The INSIST (International Study of Systems of Care in Minor Stroke and TIA) study is investigating primary care and patient outcomes over the ensuing 12-month period.

“We are finding that the majority of patients are being managed in primary practice despite international guidelines recommending patients seek specialist consultation,” Professor Chris Levi from the University of Newcastle said.

“We hope this translational research study will lead to the development of Australian guidelines for the management of TIA and minor stroke.”

A TIA occurs when the blood supply to the brain is briefly interrupted, either by a small clot or internal bleeding, with the stroke-like symptoms tending to dissipate within 24 hours. They include numbness or paralysis of the face and limbs, speech difficulties, dizziness, vision impairment and headache.

Eighteen General Practices across the Newcastle, Hunter and Manning regions – including Forster, Taree, Scone, Bonnells Bay and Shoal Bay – are involved in the study, along with the Acute Neurovascular Clinic at John Hunter Hospital.

The researchers are hoping to further increase community awareness of the study.

“Any patient identified as having a TIA by a GP or practice nurse from the participating practices, or by one of our clinicians, can automatically be included in the study,” Professor Levi added.

“Around 275 people have joined to date, and we are aiming to reach 800.

“A TIA shouldn’t be ignored, even if the signs go away and the patient feels better. Early diagnosis greatly reduces the chances of a major stroke.” 

For more details contact INSIST project manager Debbie Quain from the University of Newcastle on 4968 6735 or Debbie.Quain@newcastle.edu.au.

* Professor Chris Levi from the University of Newcastle and Hunter New England Health is Leader of HMRI’s Brain and Mental Health research program.. HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.