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Stroke survivors and campaigners have urged others to not dismiss TIAs (transient ischaemic attacks, or mini-strokes) as ‘funny turns’ or a lucky escape as they can be a warning sign of further, more severe strokes in the future.
As May is Stroke Awareness Month, Steve Wright is one stroke survivor who is campaigning for others to become more aware of the warning signs.
Before suffering a stroke at 52 which left him disabled throughout his right side, Steve had two TIAs. The first, only a couple of months before, lasted a minute and involved Steve not being able to move his mouth whilst the second attack was on the same day as his full stroke. Steve was on his drive, feeling strange and dismissed the feeling as hunger. After making food and a drink, he woke up. He was on the floor and his wife was asking if he was alright. He thought he was explaining his feelings perfectly to her, but in reality, he was ‘speaking gobbledygook’. Steve has said that those two incidents should have given him a warning that something wasn’t quite right, but like many other people, he put both incidents down to ‘funny turns’.
Similarly, Andrew Marr’s wife Jackie Ashley has spoken about her own experience with her husband’s mini-strokes before his life-changing stroke a few months later.
“We only realised that he had had a couple of TIAs when the hospital surgeon told him that brain scans revealed two earlier ‘incidents’ before his full stroke. At first we were puzzled. But then realised that the clues were there.”
A new campaign from the Stroke Association aims to raise awareness of the potentially catastrophic consequences of TIAs, as a recent public survey showed that the UK’s population had very little awareness of TIAs, their symptoms and their significance. 10,000 strokes a year could be avoided if all TIAs were treated urgently, which is 10,000 people who could be spared death or disability and 10,000 families who could be spared immense trauma, too.