In these challenging and unusual times, it’s important that we still recognise and respond to ill-health that is unrelated to the Coronavirus.

Hospitals are reporting significant falls in admission for a range of conditions, including transient ischaemic attack, TIAs or "mini strokes".

It is feared that people are worried about placing a further burden on an already stretched NHS, or even contracting the virus at hospitals or health centres. 

This is a big concern, as a TIA left undiagnosed places a person at a higher risk of having a full stroke in the near future, and an assessment by a health professional can help determine the best way to reduce the chances of that happening.

What is a TIA?

TIAs are caused by a temporary disruption in the blood supply to part of the brain. This can cause sudden symptoms similar to a stroke, such as speech and visual disturbance, and numbness or weakness in the face, arms and legs.

But a TIA does not last as long as a stroke. The effects last a few minutes to a few hours and can fully resolve within 24 hours.

Symptoms of a TIA

The main symptoms of a TIA can be remembered with the word F.A.S.T.

  • Face– the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have dropped.
  • Arms– the person may not be able to lift both arms and keep them raised because of weakness or numbness in one arm.
  • Speech– their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all, despite appearing to be awake; they may also have problems understanding what you're saying to them.
  • Time– it's time to call 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms.

If you think you’re having a TIA

In the early stages of a TIA, it's not possible to tell whether you're having a TIA or a full stroke.

It's important to call 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance if you or someone else has symptoms of a TIA or stroke.

If a TIA is suspected, then appropriate medicine will be administered to help prevent a full-blown stroke.

Even if the symptoms disappear while you're waiting for an ambulance to arrive, you still need to be assessed in hospital.

You should be referred to see a specialist within 24 hours of the onset of your symptoms.

If you think you’ve had a TIA

Regardless of the current Covid-19 crisis, if you think you may have had a TIA you must seek medical advice!

This is also true if the TIA symptoms have passed and you did not seek medical advice at the time, you must make an urgent appointment with your GP. They can determine whether to refer you for a hospital assessment.

It’s more dangerous to ignore the situation and do nothing than to make an appointment and get checked out.

If you need some advice on what to do, then feel free to call Think Ahead Stroke on 01942 824888.