Long-term anticoagulant therapy for TIAs and minor strokes with minimum residuum.
One hundred seventy-eight patients with transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) or small strokes with slight symptoms persisting for more than 24 hours (incomplete recovery = IR) (TIA-IR) from both the carotid and the vertebrobasilar systems were treated with anticoagulants. Ten patients stopped the treatment because of severe side effects. Only one patient had a lethal cerebral infarction when the thrombotest values were above the therapeutic level; no other infarction happened during the treatment period. Moreover, the frequency of TIA decreased during the treatment, compared with descriptions of the natural course of TIA. One hundred four patients were observed for a mean of 21 months after the anticoagulant treatment ended. During the observation period, six patients had cerebral infarctions. This was a sixfold increase compared with the stroke incidence during treatment, and was almost identical with the incidence of strokes seen during the natural course of TIA. All the cerebral infarctions were in patients who had their initial TIA/TIA-IR from the carotid territory (within the same carotid artery which earlier had given symptoms). The investigation shows that long-term anticoagulant treatment is useful, especially in patients with carotid TIA/TIA-IR, and that this treatment should continue as long as the patients can manage it. In patients with vertebrobasilar symptoms of malignant character, it seems feasible to terminate the treatment after about one year. The mechanism of the anticoagulant treatment is obscure, but it does not appear to influence the progress of the atherosclerotic process.
- Copyright © 1976 by American Heart Association