It is often referred to as a ‘warning stroke’ – a terrifying episode that nonetheless gives people time to take action before a fatal emergency occurs.
In short, a mini stroke is a warning: a big, blue-lights-flashing alert that someone is at serious risk. (A recent study found 10 to 15 per cent of TIA patients will go on to have a full stroke within a month.)
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Such a warning gives a patient a good chance to get some medical treatment that will hopefully prevent a future stroke from occurring.
It also helps if people know what to look for. Both a stroke and a TIA manifest the same initial symptoms, which anyone can easily recognise by using the simple FAST test.
F – Facial weakness. Can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?
A – Arm weakness. Can the person raise both arms?
S – Speech disturbance. Can the person speak clearly or understand what you say?
T – Time to call 999.
It’s especially important to recognise stroke symptoms because – unlike conditions such as heart disease, where there is often a causal relationship with factors such as lifestyle or weight – a mini stroke attacks indiscriminately. Lifestyle offers no clue.