Ottawa prevention clinic has huge impact on stroke rate, study finds

October 29, 2010

New research suggests that patients who are treated for mini-strokes at The Ottawa Hospital (TOH) have a markedly reduced chance of developing a full-blown stroke, thanks to a comprehensive new stroke prevention clinic. Just 3.2 per cent of TOH patients treated for a mini-stroke (also called a transient ischemic attack or TIA) developed a full-blown stroke within 90 days, compared to a typical rate of 10 per cent at other centres. The study, which involved 982 patients, is published in the journal Stroke.

“This study shows that an urgent stroke prevention clinic can have a huge impact on preventing TIA patients from having a full-blown stroke,” said Dr. Mike Sharma, lead author of the study and Director of The Ottawa Hospital Stroke Clinic, Assistant Professor of Neurology at the University of Ottawa and Deputy Director of the Canadian Stroke Network. “Our stroke rate is a third of what it is at other centres, and we did this without costly hospitalization.”

The Ottawa Hospital Stroke Clinic was established in 2007 as part of a comprehensive stroke prevention program within the Champlain Local Health Integration Network. The clinic involves coordinated efforts between emergency room physicians, neurologists and nurses. Patients with TIA symptoms are rapidly assessed in the emergency department and referred to the stroke clinic for brain imaging, medication adjustments, counselling about stroke risk factors and, in some cases, surgery. An evidence-based triaging system ensures that patients with the greatest stroke risk are seen as quickly as possible.

“This study shows that it is critical to have systems in place to respond rapidly once it is clear that the brain is threatened,” said Dr. Antoine Hakim, Scientific Director of the Canadian Stroke Network and a stroke specialist and scientist affiliated with TOH and the University of Ottawa. “The results of this study are really encouraging. It’s a huge achievement.”

There are over 50,000 strokes in Canada each year and 300,000 Canadians living with the effects of stroke.

The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

“CIHR is pleased to support this wonderful study,” said Dr. Lori West, Scientific Director of CIHR’s Institute of Circulatory and Respiratory Health. “It is yet another powerful example of knowledge translation – research transforming the way we practice medicine, to improve the lives of Canadians.”

The full reference is: Stratified, Urgent Care for Transient Ischemic Attack Results in Low Stroke Rates. Wasserman J, Perry J, Dowlatshahi D, Stotts G, Stiell I, Sutherland J, Symington C, Sharma M. Stroke. 2010 Oct 14.

About the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) is the research arm of The Ottawa Hospital and is an affiliated institute of the University of Ottawa, closely associated with the University’s Faculties of Medicine and Health Sciences. The OHRI includes more than 1,500 scientists, clinical investigators, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and staff conducting research to improve the understanding, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human disease.

About the Canadian Stroke Network
The Canadian Stroke Network ( includes more than 100 of Canada’s leading scientists and clinicians from 24 universities who work collaboratively on various aspects of stroke. The network, which is headquartered at the University of Ottawa, also includes partners from industry, the non-profit sector, provincial and federal governments. The Canadian Stroke Network, one of Canada’s Networks of Centres of Excellence, is committed to reducing the physical, social and economic impact of stroke on the lives of individual Canadians and on society as a whole.

Media contacts
Jennifer Paterson
Director, Communications and Public Relations
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
613-798-5555 ext. 73325
613-614-5253 (cell)

Cathy Campbell
Director, Communications
Canadian Stroke Network