‘Mini’ strokes must be treated ‘within hours’ to prevent major attack

Advert warns to act FAST when you see signs of a stroke

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Strokes are serious life-threatening medical emergencies. They occur when blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. Depending on the type of stroke someone experiences this could be due to a blood clot or a blood vessel bursting, among other causes.

The most common type of a stroke is known as an ischaemic stroke.

It accounts for around 85 percent of all strokes and is caused by a clot preventing blood flow to the brain.

According to one study, published in Neurology journal, almost a quarter of patients who experience an ischaemic stroke suffer a transient ischaemic attack – or “mini” stroke – first.

In 43 percent of cases the mini stroke occurred in the seven days prior.

Seventeen percent experienced a TIA that same day and nine percent on the day before the stroke.

Lead study author, Peter Rothwell, an action research professor at the University of Oxford, explained that treating the TIA “within hours” could help prevent the patient going on to suffer a full stroke.

Quoted in Science Daily, he said: “This study indicates that the timing of a TIA is critical, and the most effective treatments should be initiated within hours of a TIA in order to prevent a major attack.”

He believed that clinical guidelines should be amended as a result.

Signs of a mini stroke

A TIA can bring on the same symptoms referenced in the famous acronym FAST.

Face – The face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have drooped.

Arms – The person may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there, because of weakness or numbness in one arm.

Speech – Their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all, despite appearing to be awake; they may also have problems understanding what you’re saying to them.

Time – It’s time to call 999 immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms.

However, there are other warning signs of a TIA to be wary of.

The NHS says: “The symptoms in the FAST test identify most strokes and TIAs, but a TIA can occasionally cause different symptoms that typically appear suddenly (usually over a few seconds).”

These symptoms include:

  • Complete paralysis of one side of the body
  • Sudden vision loss, blurred vision or double vision
  • Vertigo
  • Being sick
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty understanding what others are saying
  • Problems with balance and co-ordination
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia).

If you think you or someone you know is experiencing a TIA, or stroke, you need to dial 999 immediately.

“A TIA is a warning that you’re at risk of having a full stroke in the near future,” the NHS adds.

“If you think you’ve had a TIA previously, but the symptoms have since passed and you did not get medical advice at the time, make an urgent appointment with a GP.

“They can refer you for a hospital assessment, if appropriate.”

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