ED visits for ischemic stroke or TIA decrease 35% over decade

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 - brain, stroke

From 2001 to 2011, the rate of emergency department visits for ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) among adults decreased 35 percent, while the percentage of visits that resulted in admission or transfer to a hospital increased 10 percent.

In addition, during the same time period, the percentage of emergency department visits for ischemic stroke or TIA with an MR imaging or CT test ordered or provided increased 39 percent.

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) compiled the information from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, which examines visits to nonfederal hospital-based outpatient departments, emergency departments and ambulatory surgery centers. Results were published online in March in an NCHS data brief.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S., and approximately 87 percent of strokes are classified as ischemic strokes. Meanwhile, approximately one-third of people who have a TIA have a stroke within a year.

The report defined ischemic stroke as occurring when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is blocked. A TIA is similar to a stroke, but the blockage of blood flow is temporary.

For adults 18 and older, the rate of emergency department visits for ischemic stroke or TIA was 40 per 10,000 persons in 2001 and 26 per 10,000 persons in 2011. For patients from 55 to 74, the rate was 68 per 10,000 persons in 2001 and 33 per 10,000 persons in 2011.

For patients 75 and older, the rate was 245 per 10,000 persons in 2001 and 182 per 10,000 persons in 2011, although there was no change from 2006 to 2011.

During the 10-year period studied, patients 75 and older had the highest emergency department visit rate for ischemic stroke or TIA, while patients from 18 to 54 had the lowest rate.