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Thousands run the risk of stroke by ignoring early warning signs

This news post is about 10 years old

Major new campaign says catching the early signs of a stroke can save lives

Thousands of people in Scotland are putting their health at risk by dismissing mini-stroke symptoms as "just a funny turn".

According to a new report launched by the Stroke Association Scotland, if mini-strokes (also known as a TIA or transient ischaemic attack) are treated in time, around 10,000 strokes could be prevented annually and the NHS and care services could save more than £200m.

The charity’s latest report, Not just a funny turn, is based on a UK-wide survey of people who had a mini-stroke in the past five years.

It found that over a third of people having a mini-stroke thought it was a funny turn while only one in five dialled 999.

However, worryingly, the report discovered over a fifth of those experiencing mini stroke went on to have major strokes.

For many people it doesn’t feel like an emergency because the symptoms are brief or mild.

Andrea Cail, director Scotland of the Stroke Association, explained: “The greatest risk of having a major stroke is within the first few days after a mini-stroke.

"However, for many people it doesn’t feel like an emergency because the symptoms are brief or mild.

“Too many mini-stroke patients delay calling 999 when their symptoms start and instead choose to book a GP appointment or visit their optician for advice because of their visual symptoms.”

Dr Keith Muir, professor of clinical imaging at the University of Glasgow and a consultant neurologist, said it was clear the public need to be more aware of the risks associated with a mini-stroke, and health professionals need to be able to identify the warning signs and recognise their importance.

“People seek help from a range of health and care professionals, particularly those working in the community.Better awareness of stroke symptoms can help ensure that people get the right treatment fast,” he said.