Clinical question: How do guideline-based care and outcomes of patients with transient ischemic attack (TIA) and minor ischemic stroke differ among patients admitted to the hospital and discharged from the ED, as well as in those referred versus not referred to stroke prevention clinics following discharge?
Background: Previous research demonstrated that urgent outpatient management strategies for patients with TIA and minor ischemic stroke are superior to standard outpatient care. However, there is less known about how outpatient stroke care compares to inpatient care in terms of outcomes, rapid risk factor identification/modification, and initiation of antithrombotic therapy.
Study design: Retrospective cohort study.
Setting: EDs of acute-care hospitals in Ontario, Canada.
Synopsis: Using the Ontario Stroke Registry, 8,540 patients seen in the ED with TIA or minor ischemic stroke were identified. The use of guideline-based interventions was highest in admitted patients, followed by patients discharged from the ED with stroke clinic follow-up, followed by patients discharged without follow-up. There was no significant difference in one-year mortality between admitted and discharged patients when adjusted for age, sex, and comorbid conditions (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.11; 95% CI, 0.92–1.34). However, stroke clinic referral was associated with a lower risk of one-year mortality compared with those discharged without follow-up (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.49; 95% CI, 0.38–0.64).
Limitations of this study include that it was carried out only in Ontario, where there is a universal healthcare system, which may limit the generalizability of the findings. Additionally, patient information was limited to what was available through the registry, which may mean there were other unmeasurable differences among groups.
Bottom line: Admitted patients with TIA or minor ischemic stroke are more likely to receive guideline-based therapy, and among patients discharged from the ED, referral to stroke clinic improves outcomes, including one-year mortality.
Citation: Kapral MK, Hall R, Fang J, et al. Association between hospitalization and care after transient ischemic attack or minor stroke. Neurology. 2016;86(17):1582-1589.