Many Delay Seeking Care Following TIA, Minor Stroke

Roughly 70 percent seek attention within 24 hours; most don't recognize symptom cause

FRIDAY, April 16 (HealthDay News) -- A substantial portion of individuals with a minor stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) don't seek medical care within 24 hours, and most do not correctly recognize the cause of their symptoms, according to research published online April 15 in Stroke.

Arvind Chandratheva, of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and colleagues analyzed data from interviews with 459 patients with a TIA and 541 with a minor stroke, defined as a five or less on the National Institute of Health Stroke Scale.

The researchers found that 67 percent of the TIA patients and 74 percent of the minor stroke patients sought medical care within 24 hours, and 47 and 46 percent, respectively, sought attention within three hours. Sixty-eight and 69 percent, respectively, didn't know the cause of their symptoms or assumed incorrect causes. Factors associated with longer delays until medical attention in the TIA patients included incorrect recognition of symptoms, lack of motor or speech symptoms, and shorter event duration. Age, sex, social class and educational level were not related to delay in seeking care or correct symptom recognition. Of the patients with TIA or minor stroke who had a recurrent stroke within 90 days, 31 percent had not sought medical attention after the first event.

"In conclusion, patients with TIA or minor stroke often delay seeking medical attention. The clinical impact of such delay is counterbalanced partly by the fact that TIA patients at higher predicted risk of stroke tend to present more urgently, but many patients still have a recurrent stroke prior to seeking medical attention after a TIA or minor stroke. Without more effective public education the full potential of acute prevention will not be realized," the authors write.

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