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    ABCD² Score for TIA

    Estimates the risk of stroke after a suspected transient ischemic attack (TIA).
    When to Use
    Why Use

    The ABCD2 score can help physicians risk stratify stroke in patients presenting with a TIA.

    The ABCD2 score was developed to help physicians risk stratify patients presenting with a TIA for how likely they are to suffer a subsequent stroke.

    • The largest prospective study of using the ABCD2 score in the emergency department found that the score performed poorly (low sensitivity for identifying low risk patients, low specificity for identifying high risk patients).
    • Multiple studies have shown that as the ABCD2 score increases the risk of a subsequent stroke also increases.
    • Patients with a low baseline risk of stroke (≤ 2%) with a low ABCD2 score (0-2) are at low risk for having a stroke within the next 7 days (0.4-0.8%).

    Points to keep in mind:

    • The ABCD2 score was developed in the outpatient (non-emergency department) setting.
    • It has been shown to have lower accuracy when used by non-specialists (primary care or emergency physicians).
    • The ABCD2 has less impact on risk stratification when applied in settings where the patients were at low baseline risk of stroke.

    There are approximately 250,000 transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) diagnosed in the United States annually.

    The ABCD2 score may help physicians identify those patients with TIA who are at very low risk of stroke and may be appropriate for an outpatient work-up vs. those who are at increased risk and may benefit from hospital admission.

    Unilateral weakness
    Speech disturbance without weakness
    Other symptoms
    <10 minutes
    10-59 minutes
    ≥ 60 minutes


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    Next Steps
    Creator Insights


    Consider further imaging modalities including MRI and carotid ultrasound.

    Consider consulting Neurology to help determine whether the patient would benefit from further inpatient evaluation or to expedite outpatient follow-up when appropriate.

    In patients who are determined at high risk for developing a stroke:

    • Consult Neurology.
    • Consider obtaining an MRI and other appropriate vascular and embolic imaging.
    • Have a lower threshold to admit to the patient for further evaluation.

    In patients who are determined to be at low risk of developing a stroke in the short term:

    • Arrange expedited evaluation as an outpatient with the goal of obtaining the relevant studies and consultations within 24 hours.

    Critical Actions

    • The ABCD2 score should not be used as a substitute for clinical judgement or decision making.
    • In populations with a low baseline stroke risk, a low ABCD2 score (0-2) correlates with a less than 1% risk of stroke within the next week. These patients may be appropriate for expedited outpatient evaluation.
    • In centers where computed tomography and carotid ultrasound studies are performed in collaboration with a stroke service, adding the ABCD2 score to the evaluation appears unnecessary.
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    Dr. S. Claiborne Johnston
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