Many debilitating strokes are preceded by smaller “mini-strokes”, or transient ischaemic attacks (TIA). If a patient is assessed by a physician within a week after the onset of these mini-strokes, a patient can dramatically reduce the risk of major stroke and the devastating impact on neurological and physiological function that can follow.
A University of Manchester study has found that hundreds of strokes could be prevented each year if patients suffering from "mini-strokes", or transient ischaemic attacks (TIA), were assessed sooner by specialist clinicians. Researchers found that almost two thirds of patients attending what are termed 'rapid access' TIA clinics took more than the recommended seven days to be seen by a professional. A transient ischaemic attack is a temporary weakening of one side of the face and corresponding arm which drastically increases a person's chances of suffering from a major stroke within days of the symptoms. Some studies have put the risk as high as a one in four probability.
However, once assessed relatively simple measures can be implemented to minimize the risk of a major stroke. Also, once advised patients are far more aware and able to recognize the symptoms of a stroke and to seek immediate medical attention.
Follow-ups to the study suggested that community outreach programs advising at risk men and women to the symptoms and dangers of these mini-strokes are advisable as an important preventative action.
Transient ischemic attacks can last a few minutes. While the symptoms can be pronounced they usually last for a short time before clearing up. Unfortunately, because the symptoms disapper too many potential victims do not seek appropriate medical attention.
§ Sudden weakness, numbness or paralysis in your face, arm or leg, typically on one side of your body
§ Slurred or garbled speech or difficulty understanding others
§ Sudden blindness in one or both eyes or double vision
§ Dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
You may have more than one TIA, and the recurrent signs and symptoms may be similar or different depending on which area of the brain is involved. If signs and symptoms last longer than 24 hours or cause lasting brain damage, it's considered a stroke.
Always seek immediate medical attention if you suspect you've had a transient ischemic attack. Quick response, early evaluation and identification of potentially treatable conditions may help prevent a stroke.