TIA and Minor Stroke

Messages for health professionals

We asked the people who were interviewed what messages they would like to convey to health professionals based on their experiences.
 
Many people were grateful for the care they received and felt well supported at the time they had their TIA or minor stroke, and afterwards. Keith said that he couldn’t fault the way in which he had been treated by both hospital staff and his GP, and likewise Angus was impressed with the speed and efficiency with which he was dealt with. Dennis said “I can only pay the highest of compliments, really. I’ve been very professionally dealt with. What more can one ask?
With the benefit of hindsight some of the people we interviewed said that they felt it was really important that health professionals were trained to recognise the signs of TIA and minor stroke, because early detection and referral is vital to ensure that treatment is offered as quickly as possible. Roger (below) had phoned his GP surgery when he was experiencing symptoms that he himself didn’t recognise or understand, and the receptionist had told him he couldn’t see a doctor until the next day. Mike saw a locum who was covering ‘out of hours’, and was told to see his GP the next day, but by that time it was too late and he had had a stroke. Mike felt that if he had been sent straight to hospital the stroke may have been prevented and felt that the locum should have been more vigilant “don’t just say go and see your GP – that’s a cop out”.
Some people suggested that it would be helpful if GPs did more preventative checks when they saw people for routine appointments, something like an MOT where you would have your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked regularly.
Frank (below) felt it was important that health professionals made time to discuss treatment and answer any questions, but that sometimes they were so busy that this wasn’t possible.
A number of people felt that at times things had become more difficult for them because the health professionals treating them had not communicated clearly enough, particularly because as Gilly (below) points out, when people are feeling vulnerable and possibly disorientated or confused by what is happening at the time they are not always able to process the information they are given easily. Yvonne (below) had been told by her GP that she was being referred to the TIA clinic, but didn’t think to explain to her what that meant, so when she arrived at the clinic she remarked to her husband “Gosh, there seem to be an awful lot of people here who appear to have what I would say were stroke symptoms”, but it wasn’t until she saw the specialist that she realised why she had been referred there. When she went in to see the consultant he showed her an area of brain damage on a computer screen, which shocked her as it was the first time she realised that she had had a TIA and stroke. Clare had a similar experience, and says that the way you are told these things has a big effect on you.
Some patients, both young and old, felt that their treatment and diagnosis were affected by the health professional’s perception of their age.
Michelle was only in her 20’s and had several TIA’s before having a full stroke five months later, but doctors put her symptoms down to anxiety because they didn’t expect someone of her age to have a TIA or stroke.

(See also ‘Communication with health professionals’.)

Last reviewed June 2017.

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