50+ health * Healthy living

Most people don't know signs of mini-stroke

Warning sign for stroke

Most people in the UK are unaware of the symptoms of mini- strokes, new research has found.

Transient ischemic attacks, also known as mini strokes happen when a small blood clot temporarily blocks blood flow to the brain. Although the symptoms are similar to those of a stroke, they usually disappear within 24 hours.

However, without treatment one in five people who have a TIA will go on to have a full stroke in the following month.

In the study, researchers from Oxford University analyzed data from 1,000 patients in the United Kingdom (average age 73) who had a mini-stroke or TIA.

More than two-thirds of patients were unaware they had suffered a mini-stroke stroke and almost one in three delayed seeking medical attention for more than 24 hours. Delaying treatment increases your chance of having a full stroke.

In addition, seventy per cent of patients went to their GP first about their symptoms, instead of calling for an ambulance.

TIA patients were more likely to put off going to a doctor if their balance or speech was normal, if symptoms didn't last long, or if they experienced symptoms on a Friday, a weekend or a holiday researchers said, suggesting many thought their symptoms didn't require emergency medical treatment.

Arvind Chandratheva, a research fellow from the Department of Clinical Neurology at the University of Oxford said the findings "indicate a lack of public awareness that TIA is a medical emergency" and highlight the need for more public education about the symptoms of TIAs.

The findings are published in the journal Stroke.

Stroke is the third biggest cause of death in the UK after heart disease and cancer, and the biggest single cause of severe disability. Each year, more than 110,000 people in England alone have a stroke.

This article was published on Mon 19 April 2010

Image © James Steidl - Fotolia.com

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