This study on mini-stroke, also called transient ischemic attack (TIA), included a telephone survey of more than 10,000 people in the United States. It found that only 9 percent of people could give the definition of TIA or identify a symptom of TIA.
Those symptoms are the same as those for a regular stroke, but TIA symptoms resolve themselves within 24 hours. TIA symptoms include: sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance or coordination; sudden severe headache with no known cause.
The survey found that 3.2 percent of the 10,000 people surveyed had TIA symptoms, but never saw a doctor about them. Among those diagnoses with TIA, 16 percent saw a doctor more than a week after they experienced the symptoms.
"People think that because these symptoms go away quickly, they don't need to worry about them, but that's definitely not the case. People who've had a TIA are at high risk of having a stroke, particularly in the first few days after the TIA, and doctors can help them reduce that risk," study author Dr. Claiborne Johnston, of the University of California, San Francisco, says in a news release.
He says people with any kind of stroke symptoms need to get to a hospital immediately, where they can get properly diagnosed and treated.
The survey found that 2.3 percent of the respondents had been diagnosed with a stroke. Of those, 19 percent recalled having a TIA before their stroke.
Here's where you can learn more about stroke.