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FAST-TIA: a prospective evaluation of a nurse-led anterior circulation TIA clinic

Abstract

Background: Transient ischaemic attacks (TIAs) carry a significant early risk of stroke. New national guidelines state patients should be seen within 7 days of the incident, with higher-risk patients being seen within 24 h. Meeting these targets across the NHS poses a significant challenge. A novel approach to TIA assessment has been developed using a nurse-led rapid-access anterior circulation TIA clinic.

Methods: This was a prospective evaluation of all patients attending the FAST-TIA clinic between November 2003 and December 2006. Diagnostic yield of neurovascular events among patients seen through the TIA service and median time from referral to assessment and from event to assessment were measured.

Results: 282 patients were eligible for investigation, and seen through the clinic over a period of 38 months. A vascular event was diagnosed in 242 (86%). TIA was diagnosed in 133 (55%), minor ischaemic stroke in 77 (32%), haemorrhagic stroke in three (1%), and an ocular event in 29 (12%). Median time from referral to assessment was 3 days (interquartile range (IQR) 1–7), and from event to assessment it was 7 days (IQR 3–18). 34% of patients were seen within 24 h of referral.

Conclusions: This model has a high diagnostic rate of 86% vascular events, significantly higher than current national averages of ∼55%. Current national guidelines for early assessment of patients (published subsequent to this study) are achievable using this service. The FAST-TIA model is an easily reproducible and pragmatic method of improving the diagnostic yield of TIA services, while keeping within national targets.

  • stroke medicine
  • transient ischaemic attacks

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