Rehabilitation of patients after transient ischaemic attack or minor stroke: Pilot feasibility randomised trial of a home-based prevention programme

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Background: Although the importance of secondary prevention after transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or minor stroke is recognised, research is sparse regarding novel, effective ways in which to intervene in a primary care context.

Aim: To pilot a randomised controlled trial (RCT) of a novel home-based prevention programme (The Healthy Brain Rehabilitation Manual) for patients with TIA or ‘minor’ stroke.

Design and setting: Pilot RCT, home-based, undertaken in Northern Ireland between May 2017 and March 2018.

Method: Patients within 4 weeks of a first TIA or ‘minor’ stroke received study information from clinicians in four hospitals. Participants were randomly allocated to one of three groups: standard care (control group) (n = 12); standard care with manual and GP follow-up (n = 14); or standard care with manual and stroke nurse follow-up (n = 14). Patients in all groups received telephone follow-up at 1, 4, and 9 weeks. Eligibility, recruitment, and retention were assessed; stroke/cardiovascular risk factors measured at baseline and 12 weeks; and participants’ views were elicited about the study via focus groups.

Results: Over a 32-week period, 28.2% of clinic attendees (125/443) were eligible; 35.2% of whom (44/125) consented to research contact; 90.9% of these patients (40/44) participated, of whom 97.5% (39/40) completed the study. After 12 weeks, stroke risk factors [cardiovascular risk factors, including blood pressure and measures of physical activity] improved in both intervention groups. The research methods and the programme were acceptable to patients and health professionals, who commented that the programme ‘filled a gap’ in current post-TIA management.

Conclusion: Findings indicate that implementation of this novel cardiac rehabilitation programme, and of a trial to evaluate its effectiveness, is feasible, with potential for clinically important benefits and improved secondary prevention after TIA or ‘minor’ stroke.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e706-e714
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Issue number687
Early online date26 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


  • rehabiltation
  • stroke
  • TIA/transient ischaemic attack
  • secondary cardiovascular prevention


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