Traps for the unwary

November 2010

FocusTraps for the unwary

Transient ischaemic attacks

Assessment and management

Volume 39, No.11, November 2010 Pages 820-824

Elaine S Leung

M Anne Hamilton-Bruce

Simon A Koblar


Transient ischaemic attacks (TIAs) can be challenging to diagnose, but early assessment and effective management can reduce the subsequent risk of stroke.


This article reviews the assessment and management of TIAs for general practitioners.


Transient ischaemic attacks can be a trap for the unwary, with difficulty in making a diagnosis and varied assessment and management pathways. There is a significant risk of subsequent stroke. Early assessment and initiation of treatment, which can take place in the general practice setting, could lower the risk of stroke. Liaising with regional stroke care centres is required to establish an optimal pathway of care.

Transient ischaemic attacks (TIAs) are a warning sign of stroke, with 20% of patients having a subsequent stroke within 90 days.1 Stroke is a leading cause of disease in Australia, with approximately 50 000 strokes occurring per year.2 The subsequent consequences can be devastating, with 20% of patients dying within 1 month of their first stroke3 and of survivors, one-third remaining disabled.4

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