Only 8% Of TIA Victims Receive Care Within 24 Hours

Greater Awareness of TIA's Needed Amongst Victims

16.10.2013

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

Despite the immediate risks posed by a transient ischaemic attack (TIA), only eight per cent of people seek medical help within 24 hours.

TIAs, often known as mini-strokes, are classified as temporary disruption of blood flow to the brain, but resolve within less than a day and leave the victim completely healthy. Any other outcome will result in the diagnosis of a full-stroke rather than a TIA.

However, having a TIA will leave the victim substantially more likely to have a full-blown cardiovascular event, normally either a stroke or a heart attack, within the next six months, although the risk is greatest in the 48 hours following the cessation of symptoms.

As such, a mini-stroke should be considered a medical emergency, but new figures released by the University of Leicester suggest that only eight per cent of 278 TIA patients who suffered an attack between December 1st 2008 and April 30th 2010 sought care within 24 hours.

This is despite an extensive campaign promoted by the government to increase awareness of FAST tests, which tells people to monitor their Face, Arm and Speech before realising it is Time to phone 999.

Professor Andrew Wilson, who led the study, said: "Factors contributing to delay include incorrect interpretation of symptoms and failure to contact the emergency services, which demonstrates an ongoing need for patient education.

"Despite the FAST campaign, which was taking place at the time of the study, only 60 per cent of the patients we interviewed reported a FAST symptom, which is actually fewer than in some other studies."

Researchers concluded the fact that most TIA patients saw a GP before they were placed in primary hospital care shows some people aren't taking the risk of brain injuries seriously enough.

While TIAs are, by definition, harmless in the medium-to-long term, any potential full stroke that follows could result in permanent brain damage, paralysis and the risk of developing further cardiovascular issues.

Anyone who believes they may have suffered a TIA should phone 999 immediately.

Expert Opinion
All the research shows that the quicker the response in treating people who have suffered conditions such as strokes or cardiac arrests the more chance there is of being able to save their lives and potentially prevent any longer term harm.

"It is worrying that only 8% of people suffering a ‘mini-stroke’ are being seen within 24 hours and it is vital that awareness is raised with both the general public and healthcare professionals.

"If more people can spot the signs of serious conditions that can cause brain injuries, they can ensure they get to the relevant health care centres as soon as they can. Similarly the NHS has a duty to spot any warning signs and ensure that patients get the most appropriate treatment as soon as possible which could save lives.”
Lisa Jordan, Partner