Minor Stroke

Women experiencing a minor stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) are less likely to be diagnose with a stroke compare to men even though they describe similar symptoms in emergency departments. In our study, men were more likely to be diagnose with TIA or minor stroke; also women were 10% more likely to be given a non-stroke diagnosis; for example migraine or vertigo, even though men and women were equally likely to report atypical stroke symptoms.

Typical stroke symptoms

The study found men and women equally describe a typical stroke symptoms such as dizziness, tingling or confusion which are not commonly thought of as relate to stroke. Typical symptoms of stroke are sudden weakness, face drooping, or speech difficulties. A TIA occurs when there is temporary interruption of blood flow to the brain, and is often a warning sign of another stroke. TIAs can also be associate with permanent disability.

Our study also found the chance of having another stroke or heart attack within 90 days of the diagnosis was the same for women and men, adds senior author Dr. Shelagh Coutts, MD, a stroke neurologist with Alberta Health Services at Foothills Medical Centre, associate professor at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine (CSM) and member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the CSM.

Researchers say while further research is need; so it is possible that patient reporting of symptoms; so interpretation of symptoms by clinicians, or a combination of both; hence could explain the discrepancy in diagnosis among men and women. Our findings call attention to potential miss opportunities for prevention of stroke; so other adverse vascular events such as heart attack or death in women,” adds Coutts.

Patients diagnose with stroke

Previous studies on this topic have focus on patients diagnose with stroke. Researchers in the current study include 1,648 patients; hence with suspect TIA who were refer to a neurologist after receiving emergency care from 2013-2017, regardless of their final diagnosis. Researchers note it is an important opportunity for the public; also clinicians to be aware of atypical symptoms of TIA.

What’s important to recognize in stroke is that the brain; hence has so many different functions and when a stroke is happening; so people can feel different things beyond the typical stroke symptoms,” says Yu. “Accurately diagnosing TIA and stroke would change a patient’s treatment plan; also help prevent another stroke from happening. Funding for the study was provide by Genome Canada, Genome B.C., Genome Alberta, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

Led by the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, Brain and Mental Health is one of six research strategies guiding the University of Calgary toward its Eyes High goals. The strategy provides a unifying direction for brain and mental health research; hence at the university and positions researchers to unlock new discoveries and treatments for brain health in our community.