Can You Recognize Symptoms of Minor Stroke?
Study Shows Many People Having a Minor Stroke Delay Prompt Treatment
WebMD News Archive
Call 911 With Stroke Symptoms
Calling 911 is important because patients who arrive at the hospital by
ambulance tend to be evaluated far more quickly than those who walk into
hospital ERs on their own, says Michael A. Sloan, MD, who directs the
Comprehensive Stroke Center at Tampa General Hospital.
"For someone having a stroke, or even a TIA, minutes count," Sloan tells
WebMD. "Each second that passes can mean 32,000 brain cells lost."
Prompt treatment with clot-busting thrombolytic drugs during a major stroke
can prevent death and long-term disability.
For many years the cutoff for using intravenous tPA (a clot-busting drug)
was thought to be three hours, but Sloan says it is now clear patients respond
as long as four and one-half hours after strokes occur.
Prompt evaluation following a TIA is also important because it is now
possible to predict major stroke risk fairly accurately with a model that
scores factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, age, and duration and
presentations of symptoms, Sloan says.
"Using this model we can tell patients if their risk is very low or very
high," he says.
In the study, published in the journal Stroke, roughly three out of
four patients said they went to their primary care doctor following TIA
symptoms instead of seeking emergency care.
TIA patients were more likely to delay seeking treatment if they did not
experience motor or speech impairment, if symptoms lasted only a few minutes,
or if their symptoms occurred on a Friday, weekend, or holiday.
Surprisingly, almost one in three patients who had already had a stroke did
not seek medical care in a timely manner.
Stroke is the third leading killer and the leading cause of long-term
disability in the U.S., according to the American Heart Association.
The study findings "indicate a lack of public awareness that TIA is a
medical emergency," study researcher Arvind Chandratheva, MRCP, says in a news