— by Jeff Jurmain, MA
Your heart and your circulatory system are nothing to take lightly. Ever. That’s why a new study bears important news for all of us. If you have symptoms that anything could be wrong, that anything might have happened, you need to seek help right away.
In the U.S., 30% of adults who suffer what’s colloquially called a “mini-stroke” don’t seek medical assistance in an appropriate amount of time. Mini-strokes, which are minor but still produce noticeable symptoms, will raise the risk of a major stroke, which, as we all know, has the propensity to be fatal.
In short: if you have a mini-stroke, you need immediate help, not two days from now and not next week. In medical parlance, they are called “transient ischemic attacks” (TIAs). These can actually trigger complete strokes within hours or days. But seeing a doctor will do wonders, as it’s not hard to uncover which patients would be at greatest risk — and starting a course of treatment could be a literal life-saver.
Mini-strokes, TIAs, have similar symptoms to a stroke, but are temporary. They include visual disturbances, difficulty speaking, trouble concentrating, dizziness, fainting, numbness/tingling on one side, overall weakness, or an inability to move a part of the body. Guidelines say that you should see a doctor within a day of having a mini-stroke.
But are people doing that? Researchers questioned 1,000 stroke or TIA patients who already were part of a study on major problems triggered by blocked blood vessels. They found that 459 had suffered TIAs and 67% of them sought medical help within 24 hours. Just under half of them sought help within three hours, which would be ideal.
Another 541 patients had minor strokes. Of them, 74% got help within 24 hours, 46% within three hours. The vast majority visited their family doctor first. Of all 1,000 patients, 129 had a second stroke following the TIA or minor stroke — and 30% had not received treatment before the second problem.
The researchers say that more public education is needed to help people recognize the important signs of a mini-stroke, and to understand that seeking help is very important.
Hence this article. If you spot any of the above symptoms, it would be very wise to ask your doctor what they could mean. If they seem serious (i.e. you have more than just a simple dizzy spell), head straight to the hospital.