Long-Term Impact of Urgent Secondary Prevention After Transient Ischemic Attack and Minor Stroke: Ten-Year Follow-Up of the EXPRESS Study.
Luengo-Fernandez R., Li L., Silver L., Gutnikov S., Beddows NC., Rothwell PM.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Urgent assessment aimed at reducing stroke risk after transient ischemic attack or minor stroke is cost-effective over the short-term. However, it is unclear if the short-term impact is lost on long-term follow-up, with recurrent events being delayed rather than prevented. By 10-year follow-up of the EXPRESS study (Early Use of Existing Preventive Strategies for Stroke), previously showing urgent assessment reduced 90-day stroke risk by 80%, we determined whether that early benefit was still evident long-term for stroke risk, disability, and costs. METHODS: EXPRESS was a prospective population-based before (phase 1: April 2002-September 2004; n=310) versus after (phase 2: October 2004-March 2007; n=281) study of the effect of early assessment and treatment of transient ischemic attack/minor stroke on early recurrent stroke risk, with an external control. This report assesses the effect on 10-year recurrent stroke risk, functional outcomes, quality-of-life, and costs. RESULTS: A reduction in stroke risk in phase 2 was still evident at 10 years (55/23.3% versus 82/31.6%; hazard ratio=0.68 [95% CI, 0.48-0.95]; P=0.024), as was the impact on risk of disabling or fatal stroke (17/7.7% versus 32/13.1%; hazard ratio=0.54 [0.30-0.97]; P=0.036). These effects were due to maintenance of the early reduction in stroke risk, with neither additional benefit nor rebound catch-up after 90 days (post-90 days hazard ratio=0.88 [0.65-1.44], P=0.88; and hazard ratio=0.83 [0.42-1.65], P=0.59, respectively). Disability-free life expectancy was 0.59 (0.03-1.15; P=0.043) years higher in patients in phase 2, as was quality-adjusted life expectancy (0.49 [0.03-0.95]; P=0.036). Overall, 10-year costs were nonsignificantly higher in patients attending the phase 2 clinic ($1022 [-3865-5907]; P=0.66). The additional cost per quality-adjusted life year gained in phase 2 versus phase 1 was $2103, well below current cost-effectiveness thresholds. CONCLUSIONS: Urgent assessment and treatment of patients with transient ischemic attack or minor stroke resulted in a long-term reduction in recurrent strokes and improved outcomes, with little atrophy of the early benefit over time, representing good value for money even with a 10-year time horizon. Our results suggest that other effective acute treatments in transient ischemic attack/minor stroke in the short-term will also have the potential to have long-term benefit.