Addition of brain and carotid imaging to the ABCD² score to identify patients at early risk of stroke after transient ischaemic attack: a multicentre observational study

Lancet Neurol. 2010 Nov;9(11):1060-9. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(10)70240-4. Epub 2010 Oct 11.


Background: The ABCD² score improves stratification of patients with transient ischaemic attack by early stroke risk. We aimed to develop two new versions of the score: one that was based on preclinical information and one that was based on imaging and other secondary care assessments.

Methods: We analysed pooled data from patients with clinically defined transient ischaemic attack who were investigated while in secondary care. Items that contribute to the ABCD² score (age, blood pressure, clinical weakness, duration, and diabetes), other clinical variables, carotid stenosis, and abnormal acute diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) were recorded and were included in multivariate logistic regression analysis of stroke occurrence at early time intervals after onset of transient ischaemic attack. Scores based on the findings of this analysis were validated in patients with transient ischaemic attack from two independent population-based cohorts.

Findings: 3886 patients were included in the study: 2654 in the derivation sample and 1232 in the validation sample. We derived the ABCD³ score (range 0-9 points) by assigning 2 points for dual transient ischaemic attack (an earlier transient ischaemic attack within 7 days of the index event). C statistics (which indicate discrimination better than chance at >0·5) for the ABCD³ score were 0·78 at 2 days, 0·80 at 7 days, 0·79 at 28 days, and 0·77 at 90 days, compared with C statistics for the ABCD² score of 0·71 at 2 days (p=0·083), 0·71 at 7 days (p=0·012), 0·71 at 28 days (p=0·021), and 0·69 at 90 days (p=0·018). We included stenosis of at least 50% on carotid imaging (2 points) and abnormal DWI (2 points) in the ABCD³-imaging (ABCD³-I) score (0-13 points). C statistics for the ABCD³-I score were 0·90 at 2 days (compared with ABCD² score p=0·035), 0·92 at 7 days (p=0·001), 0·85 at 28 days (p=0·028), and 0·79 at 90 days (p=0·073). The 90-day net reclassification improvement compared with ABCD² was 29·1% for ABCD³ (p=0·0003) and 39·4% for ABCD³-I (p=0·034). In the validation sample, the ABCD³ and ABCD³-I scores predicted early stroke at 7, 28, and 90 days. However, discrimination and net reclassification of patients with early stroke were similar with ABCD³ compared with ABCD².

Interpretation: The ABCD³-I score can improve risk stratification after transient ischaemic attack in secondary care settings. However, use of ABCD³ cannot be recommended without further validation.

Funding: Health Research Board of Ireland, Irish Heart Foundation, and Irish National Lottery.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Carotid Stenosis / complications
  • Carotid Stenosis / diagnosis*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / diagnosis
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / methods
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications
  • Hypertension / diagnosis
  • Internationality
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / complications
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / diagnosis*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Review Literature as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Stroke / diagnosis*
  • Stroke / etiology
  • Time Factors