Thousands of people across the East of England are at risk because they fail to recognise the signs of a mini-stroke.
A Stroke Association survey of more than 196 people in the area revealed that two thirds did not recognise the symptoms, with more than a quarter believing they were seeing the symptoms of a heart attack.
Nine out of ten respondents said they would be worried if they experienced a mini-stroke – known medically as a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) – and yet almost three quarters said they would not go to hospital.
Professor Peter Rothwell, lead researcher of the project said: “This poll suggests that the signs of a TIA are still being ignored. This needs to change.”
More than 46,000 people suffer mini-strokes, caused by a temporary lack of blood flow to the brain, in the UK each year. Symptoms include facial weakness, speech problems and pins and needles down one side of the body, which often last for just a short time.
Earlier research shows that one in ten patients who have a mini-stroke go on to have a major stroke within a week. It is estimated that if all patients experiencing a mini-stroke received emergency treatment, almost 10,000 strokes could be avoided each year.
East of England Ambulance Service spokesman Gary Sanderson said: “First and foremost, if you suspect that you or someone else is having a stroke, please phone 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance.”
The main symptoms of stroke can be remembered with the word FAST: Face-Arms-Speech-Time
•Face: the face may have dropped on one side.
•Arms: the person may not be able to or have trouble lifting one or both arms.
•Speech: may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all.
•Time: dial 999 immediately.