Mini-stroke dismissed as 'funny turn'
Those who ignore symptoms of a TIA (transient ischaemic attack) or mini-stroke are running the risk of having a major stroke, the Stroke Association warns.
TIA causes similar symptoms to a stroke, such as speech problems, but may last only a few minutes.
A survey of TIA patients found more than one in three had dismissed their symptoms as just a "funny turn".
About 10,000 strokes could be prevented if TIAs were treated, said the charity.
• The symptoms of TIAs usually come on suddenly
• Mini-stroke symptoms are the same as for stroke but last no longer than 24 hours
• Symptoms include facial weakness, such as drooping mouth or eyes, arm weakness, and speech problems
The greatest risk of having a major stroke was within the first few days after a TIA, said chief executive Jon Barrick.
For many people "it doesn't feel like an emergency because the symptoms are brief or mild", he said.
"There's nothing small about mini-stroke," he added.
"It's a medical emergency. When the symptoms start, you should call 999 and say you may be having a stroke."'Simple ignorance'
The Fast test
- Facial weakness - Can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?
- Arm weakness - Can the person raise both arms?
- Speech problems - Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?
- Time to call 999 - If you see any one of these signs, seek immediate medical attention.
Source: Stroke Association
Each year about 46,000 people in the UK suffer from a TIA for the first time.
One in 20 people will have a major stroke within two days of a mini-stroke and this figure rises to one in 12 within a week of a TIA.
BBC TV presenter Andrew Marr, who has recovered from a stroke, said: "I had two mini-strokes before going on to have a major stroke.
"I was one of the thousands of people who dismissed the warning signs - simple ignorance."
'I had a TIA at 24'
Peter Tugwell from Essex was only 24 when he suddenly became ill.
"I was normal one minute, then I got pins and needles from the top of my shoulder down to my hand - I had no grip," he told BBC News.
"I slid down the wall into a heap on the floor."
His mother called an ambulance, but when paramedics arrived they thought he was too young for a TIA.
"They thought it was a 'funny turn'," he said.
He was eventually taken to hospital for treatment.
"TIA can happen at any age - take it seriously," said Mr Tugwell, now 25.
The Stroke Association's survey of 670 people who had had a mini-stroke found:
- 37% had thought it was a "funny turn"
- 22% rang 999
- 47% said the symptoms had not felt like an emergency
- 20% went on to have a major stroke
In 2009, the Department of Health launched the Stroke - Act Fast (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) campaign.
It aims to boost awareness of symptoms of stroke and TIA.
The NHS in England subsequently saw a 25% rise in stroke-related 999 calls and a 19% rise in stroke patients being seen quicker.