TIA and Minor Stroke

Monitoring and advice for transient ischaemic attack (TIA)

Treatment for a TIA or minor stroke is aimed at preventing another one happening, and lowering the risk of stroke. After a TIA or minor stroke most people are prescribed drugs to reduce the risk of clots forming in their blood and blocking their carotid arteries or other blood vessels in the brain. They may also be prescribed medication for high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol (see ‘Medication, treatment and surgery for transient ischaemic attack (TIA)'. Many of the people we spoke to returned to visit their GP, consultant, or stroke clinic for ‘check- ups’ at different intervals after the event, depending on their needs and circumstances. This might typically involve blood pressure checks, blood tests and monitoring of medication. One man found his pharmacist useful and supportive and he said it saved him wasting his doctor’s time. Some of the people we interviewed were specifically invited for these follow up appointments, whereas others said they had not been invited for on-going appointments and just went to see the GP if they felt they needed to. Some felt they would have liked to be more closely monitored in the early days after their ‘episode’. Martyn (below) said that if he hadn’t had a TIA in the first place he wouldn’t have been monitored so closely, so in some ways he feels better off than he was before.
Several people took part in a research study about minor stroke/TIA and because of that were monitored more regularly than perhaps they may have been through standard treatment routes (see ‘Taking part in TIA research’).
Some people went for regular blood tests so that the doctor could monitor their drug regime and adjust the dosage as needed.
Others were not monitored regularly. While some of them were not worried about this, some people who had not had regular checks said they felt it would be more reassuring to have somebody looking at how things were going. Ros felt she was only expected to go to her GP if she had a problem.
In some instances it was the person’s spouse or partner who recognised symptoms that might need attention.
Michelle had a TIA that hadn’t initially been diagnosed correctly, and then went on to have stroke. Afterwards she received follow up treatment at home from the physiotherapist and occupational therapist, but felt let down that there was nobody monitoring her condition or giving her advice about what to do.
Several people referred to their regular checks as like having an ‘MOT’, making sure everything is still in working order.
In fact, the advice Mike would now give to people would be to go to the GP on a more frequent basis than they might usually do, for an ‘MOT’ as a preventative measure.
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Although some people said that they had initially been told about certain lifestyle changes that they could make to reduce the risk of further stroke or TIA occurring again, there seemed to be very little monitoring of how things were going from a medical point of view. Ros had lost a lot of weight and also sold her car in order to ensure that she took more exercise, but felt let down that it seemed her GP hadn’t particularly noticed the efforts she had made.
One woman, Yvonne, had been very fit and exercised a lot before she had her TIA. Afterwards she felt wary about doing exercise in her home gym because she was worried that she might overdo things and so she made her own arrangements to go to a rehabilitation centre where she could exercise safely and know that medics were on hand to monitor her.


Last reviewed June 2017.
Last updated June 2017.

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