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Doctors seek better lab tests for stroke indicators

Category: General Wellness

One out of every eight acute strokes is preceded by a milder stroke, according to a new study.

The study, which was published in the September 29 issue of Neurology, found that 12.4 percent of people diagnosed with a stroke over a four-year period in Ontario hospitals experienced a minor interruption of blood flow to the brain, called a transient ischemic attack (TIA), in the weeks before the stroke, HealthDay News reports.

A TIA occurs when a blood clot briefly blocks a brain artery, causing sudden numbness, dizziness, or loss of balance.

The lead author of the study, Dr Daniel G. Hackam said the most valuable conclusion on the research is that doctors cannot rely on TIA as a critical warning sign to intervene to prevent a stroke. He told the news source the study represented a "gap in our knowledge base." He added, "We need better tools. That is really the main message."

In the meantime, lab testing for stroke risk factors is available to monitor the flow of blood in the main artery to the brain. Hackman recommends the carotid ultrasound as a "fairly inexpensive" procedure to screen for health concerns.

The American Heart Association estimates that about 6,500,000 stroke survivors are alive today.

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