Patients Often Unaware That They've Had Minor Strokes
Minor strokes and transient ischemic attacks (TIA) produce similar but much briefer symptoms than a full blown stroke, but they are predictive of stroke and sometimes precede a stroke by just a short period of time. That is why education about the symptoms of these occurrences for the general public is so necessary; the victims of TIAs and minor strokes need emergency medical attention as soon as possible, preferably within the first three hours of occurrence.
Research conducted at the Stroke Prevention Research Unit in the Department of Clinical Neurology at the University of Oxford in the U.K., analyzed 1,000 patient responses to what factors caused delay in reporting TIA or minor stroke. Of the 1,000 patients, 459 had suffered TIAs and 541 had minor strokes. The average age of the patients was 73.
What they found was that a majority of the patients were unaware of the symptoms of stroke or what to do about them. Most surprisingly, people of all demographics - age, gender, education, and socioeconomic status - were equally unaware of how to recognize a stroke.
- Sixty-eight percent of TIA patients and 69 percent of minor stroke patients didn't know the cause of their symptoms.
- Only 47 percent of TIA patients and 46 percent of minor stroke patients sought medical attention within three hours — when a clot-busting drug is approved to treat some strokes.
- Though sixty-seven percent of TIA patients and 74 percent of minor stroke patients sought medical attention within 24 hours, TIA patients who didn't correctly recognize their symptoms were less likely to call emergency services, especially if their motor skills and speech functions were in tact, or they experienced their symptoms on a Friday, weekend, or holiday.
- Seventy-seven percent of patients went to their primary care physicians first instead of seeking emergency medical care.
- Thirty percent of patients experiencing a recurrent stroke didn't seek timely medical attention.
Please familiarize yourself with the warning signs of stroke, TIAs, and heart attacks at the American Heart Association's website and if you experience any of the symptoms described there, seek immediate emergency care - not from your primary care doctor, but from the closest emergency ward. Call 9-1-1.
If you get care within three hours, regardless of whether you still have the systems or not, you will make the window of opportunity to receive a clot-busting drug (tPA) to aid you in reducing the chances of experiencing another stroke soon after the first.