UK group urges individuals to heed stroke warning signs

Many people at risk for stroke could get an early sign to seek medical treatment. A new study by the Stroke Association of the United Kingdom reveals a mini stroke sometimes indicates a major stroke is coming but many people are unaware of this warning signal and do not see a doctor.

A stroke occurs when the blood flow to the brain stops, usually caused by a blood clot or open bleeding inside the brain. The Stroke Association explains many strokes are preceded by a Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA), or mini stroke.

More than 46,000 people suffer a TIA each year in the U.K. alone. Symptoms can include dizziness, tingling or weakness on one side of the body, and trouble speaking. A TIA tends to last only a short time, but one in 10 people who have a TIA will have a full blown stroke within a week. 68% of the 2,000 people surveyed in the study did not know TIA symptoms and 40% did not know a TIA can lead to stroke. Jon Barrick, chief executive of the Stroke Association, stressed the importance of recognizing a TIA as a precursor to stroke:

Too many people remain unaware of the huge risk of stroke following a TIA. This needs to change. Anyone who experiences the symptoms, regardless of whether they disappear within a matter of minutes should go to hospital immediately. Assume it’s a stroke until it’s proven not to be by a medical professional.

The study indicates perhaps 10,000 of the 150,000 yearly strokes suffered in the U.K. might be avoided if people understood the symptoms and severity of TIA. The Stroke Association encourages using a simple symptom checker called F.A.S.T.: Facial weakness, Arm Weakness, Speech issues, Time to call the hospital. Just one of these symptoms requires medical attention right away.

Writer Bennett Holleman contributed this report.