- Reference Number: HEY-796/2016
- Departments: Stroke Services
- Last Updated: 1 June 2016
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This leaflet has been produced to give you general information about your condition. Most of your questions should be answered by this leaflet. It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and your doctor, but may act as a starting point for discussion. If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team caring for you.
What is a Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA)?
A TIA is often called a “mini stroke” or mild stroke. The symptoms are very similar to those of a more severe stroke, but they do not last as long – anything from a few minutes up to 24 hours. As with a stroke, the symptoms are an indication that part of the brain is not getting enough blood. A TIA should never be ignored. Without treatment, about one in four people who have had a TIA will go on to have a more severe stroke within a few years.
What are the symptoms of a TIA?
- Weakness, numbness, clumsiness or pins and needles on one side of the body e.g. arm, leg, face.
- Loss of or blurred vision in one or both eyes.
- Slurred speech or difficulty finding words.
TIA/Stroke is a Medical Emergency
The FAST (Face, Arm, Speech, and Time) helps people to quickly recognise the key symptoms of a TIA or stroke:
Facial Weakness: Can the person smile? Has their mouth or eyelid 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.
What if your symptoms do not go away?
Do not just ignore your symptoms; it could lead to a major stroke. Early assessment of a TIA reduces significantly the risk of a major stroke, dependency and saves lives. If you, or someone you know, have any of the symptoms of a TIA, you should contact your GP urgently. The symptoms may be due to something other than a TIA (such as a migraine or an epileptic seizure), the sooner the symptoms can be investigated, the more likely a doctor will be able to say whether a TIA has occurred or not. Your GP will prescribe you Aspirin, or a suitable alternative, immediately according to your symptoms and will refer you to a clinic at Hull Royal Infirmary.
What about driving?
You must not drive for four weeks from the date of the TIA event and you must see your GP for further advice before returning to drive.
What will happen?
The doctor will want to know about your symptoms, what they were, how long they lasted and whether they have happened before. This will help distinguish between a TIA and other possible causes.
Following a TIA, you may have some or all of the following tests:
- A head scan (CT or MRI).
- Blood pressure measurements.
- Blood tests to check clotting, blood glucose and cholesterol levels.
- ECG to look for unusual heart rhythms or various forms of heart disease.
- Chest X-ray to exclude other health problems.
- Carotid Doppler scan (an ultrasound scan) of the carotid arteries to check blood flow.
Anyone who has had a TIA is at greater risk of having another TIA or stroke. There are several things you can do yourself to reduce your risk:
Give up smoking
Smoking causes the arteries to become narrowed and makes the blood more likely to clot. Giving up can be difficult, so ask your GP about attending a stop smoking clinic or other help with stopping smoking.
Eat at least five portions of fruit and/or vegetables each day
There is evidence that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, which contain protective substances called antioxidants, reduces the risk of a stroke by protecting blood vessel walls from damage.
Reduce your intake of salt
Do not add salt to your food and avoid processed foods that contain a lot of salt. If you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels, ensure that you have regular check-ups and keep in touch with your GP.
Limit the amount of fat you eat
Try to limit the amount of fat you use in cooking and choose vegetable, seed and nut oils rather than margarine and butter. Avoid fatty foods such as pies, pastries and ready-meals.
Reduce your alcohol intake and avoid binge drinking
Excessive alcohol intake can raise blood pressure, while binge drinking increases the risk of a blood vessel bursting and causing bleeding into the brain. The current recommendations are 14 units per week for both men and women. A unit is one small glass of wine (125ml), a single measure of spirit (25ml) or a half pint of normal strength (4%) beer or lager.
Increase your level of physical activity
Regular exercise can reduce the risk of stroke by lowering blood pressure, assisting with weight loss and altering the balance of fats in the blood. Thirty minutes of activity five days a week is enough to reduce your risk of stroke. This can be done in one 30 minute session or several shorter sessions each day.
Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this leaflet, please do not hesitate to contact the TIA Service Co-ordinator on tel no (01482) 608741.
General Advice and Consent
Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.
Consent to treatment
Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats you, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to you. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.
The information you receive should be about your condition, the alternatives available to you, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:
- you must be able to give your consent
- you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
- you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person
Information about you
We collect and use your information to provide you with care and treatment. As part of your care, information about you will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.
We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide you with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your doctor, or the person caring for you.
Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about you. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.
If you or your carer needs information about your health and wellbeing and about your care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.