Diagnosis, Workup, Risk Reduction of Transient Ischemic Attack in the Emergency Department Setting: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association

At least 240 000 individuals experience a transient ischemic attack each year in the United States. Transient ischemic attack is a strong predictor of subsequent stroke. The 90-day stroke risk after transient ischemic attack can be as high as 17.8%, with almost half occurring within 2 days of the index event. Diagnosing transient ischemic attack can also be challenging given the transitory nature of symptoms, often reassuring neurological examination at the time of evaluation, and lack of confirmatory testing. Limited resources, such as imaging availability and access to specialists, can further exacerbate this challenge. This scientific statement focuses on the correct clinical diagnosis, risk assessment, and management decisions of patients with suspected transient ischemic attack. Identification of high-risk patients can be achieved through use of comprehensive protocols incorporating acute phase imaging of both the brain and cerebral vasculature, thoughtful use of risk stratification scales, and ancillary testing with the ultimate goal of determining who can be safely discharged home from the emergency department versus admitted to the hospital. We discuss various methods for rapid yet comprehensive evaluations, keeping resource-limited sites in mind. In addition, we discuss strategies for secondary prevention of future cerebrovascular events using maximal medical therapy and patient education.