Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Stroke Health Center

Font Size

Ministroke Needs Immediate Attention

Bigger Strokes May Follow, but Many Delay Care for Transient Ischemic Attack
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

March 30, 2006 -- Few people seek immediate medical care for 'ministrokes,' and experts want that to change.

Researchers interviewed 241 people who had been treated in Oxford, England, for a ministroke, or transient ischemic attack (TIA). In a transient ischemic attack, you can have similar symptoms of a stroke, but unlike a stroke, they are temporary and go away. Less than half of the patients -- 44% -- sought medical attention within hours of symptoms.

Delaying care is risky, since bigger strokes may follow TIA, write Matthew Giles, MRCP, and colleagues. They work in the stroke prevention research unit of Oxford University's clinical neurology department.

The study appears in Stroke. Before digging into the data, take a moment to review the warning signs of a transient ischemic attack.

TIA Warning Signs

The American Stroke Association lists these possible TIA symptoms:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble with speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble with seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble with walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

In a transient ischemic attack, blood flow is blocked to the brain for a short time. Symptoms may be brief, but they're still important.

The bottom line: Get medical attention right away for possible signs of transient ischemic attack or bigger strokes.

Delaying Care

The patients in Giles' study were about 71 years old, on average. Those who sought medical help as soon possible were judged to have treated their TIA as an emergency.

The results:

  • 107 patients (44%) responded to their symptoms as an emergency.
  • 27 patients (about 11%) sought medical attention later on the day they noticed symptoms.
  • 43 patients (nearly 18%) delayed getting medical treatment until the next day.
  • 64 patients (almost 27%) waited at least two days to seek medical attention.

When a transient ischemic attack struck on a weekend or holiday, many patients waited until the next business day to seek care.

Patients were more likely to seek immediate medical care if they had longer, more severe symptoms -- such as movement problems -- or were at higher risk of stroke.

Most patients (87%) contacted their doctor, while 10% went to an emergency room.

Today on WebMD

brain illustration stroke
Know these 5 signs.
brain scans
Test your stroke smarts.
woman with migraine
Is there a link?
brain scan
Get the facts.
brain scans
woman with migraine
brain scan
senior man stretching pre workout
Floor level view of therapist helping stroke patie
concerned woman
Lowering Cholesterol Slideshow