A CT scan of the brain within 24 hours of a mild, non-disabling stroke can predict when patients will be at the highest risk of another stroke or when symptoms may worsen, according to new research published in the American Heart Association Journal Stroke.
Like stroke, a transient ischemic attack (TIA) is caused by restricted blood supply to the brain. Symptoms may last only a few minutes.
“All patients should get a CT scan of their brain after a TIA or non-disabling stroke,” said Jeffrey J. Perry, M.D., M.Sc., co-senior author of the study and associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Ottawa in Canada. “Images can help healthcare professionals identify patterns of damage associated with different levels of risk for a subsequent stroke or help predict when symptoms may get worse.”
Most, but not all, Canadian and U.S. patients with these symptoms undergo CT scanning – an imaging that combines a series of X-ray views to generate cross-sectional images of the brain, he said.
Of 2,028 patients who received CT scans within 24 hours of a TIA or non-disabling stroke, 814 (40.1 percent) had brain damage due to impaired circulation (ischemia).
Compared to patients without ischemia, the probability of another stroke occurring within 90 days of the initial episode was:
· 2.6 times greater if the CT image revealed newly damaged tissue due to poor circulation (acute ischemia);
· 5.35 times greater if tissue was previously damaged (chronic ischemia) in addition to acute ischemia;
· 4.9 times greater if any type of small vessel damage occurred in the brain, such as narrowing of the small vessels (microangiopathy), in addition to acute ischemia;
· 8.04 times greater if acute and chronic ischemia occurred in addition to microangiopathy.
While 3.4 percent of the people in the study group had a subsequent stroke within 90 days, 25 percent of patients with CT scans showing all three types of damage to their brain had strokes.
“During the 90-day period, and also within the first two days after the initial attack, patients did much worse in terms of experiencing a subsequent stroke if they had additional areas of damage along with acute ischemia,” said Perry, who is also a senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. “These findings should prompt physicians to be more aggressive in managing patients with TIA or non-disabling stroke who are diagnosed with acute ischemia, especially if there is additional chronic ischemia and or microangiopathy.”
According to the American Stroke Association, a stroke occurs every 40 seconds on average. Stroke kills more than 150,000 people a year making it the third cause of death in the US.
Most feel that once a mild stroke has occurred there is no options for life insurance but there are some many companies that now offer guaranteed life with no medical exam. That is why it is called guaranteed because everyone will quality for this coverage withing a specific age bracket. Typically, the death benefit amount may be lower but insurance companies are offering better ranges of availability in age and face amounts everyday.
A policy that is fully underwritten requires a medical exam generally done in you home with labs requested. The insurance company will request physician statements and your medical records. Life insurance premiums host a variety of variables when it comes to underwriting for a stroke.
· What type of stroke?
· How long ago?
· Brain damage as a result of scans?
· Other conditions?
· Follow up with your physician?
Remember always discuss your medical history as well as criminal history with a life insurance specialist so they can suggest the best policy for you. If working through an agency that works with a variety of life insurance companies, this can offer the best solutions specific to your needs.