Systolic blood pressure as a predictor of transient ischemic attack/minor stroke in emergency department patients under age 80: a prospective cohort study




Penn, Andrew M.
Croteau, Nicole Samantha
Votova, Kristine
Sedgwick, Colin
Balshaw, Robert
Coutts, Shelagh B.
Penn, Melanie
Blackwood, Kaitlin
Bibok, Maximilian B.
Saly, Viera

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


BMC Neurology


Background Elevated blood pressure (BP) at emergency department (ED) presentation and advancing age have been associated with risk of ischemic stroke; however, the relationship between BP, age, and transient ischemic attack/minor stroke (TIA/MS) is not clear. Methods A multi-site, prospective, observational study of 1084 ED patients screened for suspected TIA/MS (symptom onset < 24 h, NIHSS< 4) between December 2013 and April 2016. Systolic and diastolic BP measurements (SBP, DBP) were taken at ED presentation. Final diagnosis was consensus adjudication by stroke neurologists; patients were diagnosed as either TIA/MS or stroke-mimic (non-cerebrovascular conditions). Conditional inference trees were used to define age cut-points for predicting binary diagnosis (TIA/MS or stroke-mimic). Logistic regression models were used to estimate the effect of BP, age, sex, and the age-BP interaction on predicting TIA/MS diagnosis. Results Over a 28-month period, 768 (71%) patients were diagnosed with TIA/MS: these patients were older (mean 71.6 years) and more likely to be male (58%) than stroke-mimics (61.4 years, 41%; each p < 0.001). TIA/MS patients had higher SBP than stroke-mimics (p < 0.001). DBP did not differ between the two groups (p = 0.191). SBP was predictive of TIA/MS diagnosis in younger patients, after accounting for age and sex; an increase of 10 mmHg systolic increased the odds of TIA/MS 18% (odds ratio [OR] 1.18, 95% CI 1.00–1.39) in patients < 60 years, and 23% (OR 1.23, 95% CI 11.12–1.35) in those 60–79 years, while not affecting the odds of TIA/MS in patients ≥80 years (OR 0.99, 95% CI 0.89–1.07). Conclusions Raised SBP in patients younger than 80 with suspected TIA/MS may be a useful clinical indicator upon initial presentation to help increase clinicians’ suspicion of TIA/MS.



Transient ischemic attack, TIA, Minor stroke, Blood pressure, Emergency medicine