Don’t Ignore Brief Stroke Symptoms

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If you have symptoms of a stroke that last only a few minutes, is it still necessary to go to the hospital? Absolutely. A “ministroke,” known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA), may have been brief but could be a harbinger of a more severe stroke. It should prompt an immediate 911 call and a thorough medical workup.

A 2017 survey of 2,040 American adults, conducted by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association, found that based on reported symptoms, more than one-third of respondents had likely experienced a TIA. However, only 3 percent called 911. The others were more likely to have waited, rested, or taken medicine.

The most common symptoms reported were a sudden severe headache, trouble walking, dizziness, and loss of balance or coordination. If you experience any of these symptoms-even if they go away-call for medical help without delay. About 15 percent of strokes are heralded by a TIA, and people who have a TIA are more likely to have a stroke within 90 days.

Among the survey respondents, 952 had a health condition that put them at risk for stroke.

To remember common warning signs and the importance of time with regard to strokes, you might familiarize yourself with the acronym FAST: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 911.