TIA and Minor Stroke

Taking part in transient ischaemic attack (TIA) research

Some of the people we talked to had taken part in a research study looking at stroke and TIA. This project is what is known as a ‘cohort study’, in which a group of people with a particular condition or set of characteristics are followed up long term. The research aims to look at the risk of having another TIA or stroke, whether there are any factors which can predict who is more at risk, and which treatments can help reduce that risk.
 
The first task for the research team is to confirm the diagnosis and see whether there are any obvious risk factors such as raised blood pressure, or a blockage in the carotid artery which takes blood to the neck, head and brain (known as a ‘carotid plaque’). This usually means having scans, blood tests and blood pressure monitoring, as well as talking to the research doctors and nurses.
Further information about the link between TIA and a hole in the heart is available on the Stroke Associations website. Many of the initial tests performed by the research team are similar to those offered as part of usual clinical care (see also ‘Tests and scans).
Rosemary’s experience was a bit different as she was asked to take part as a healthy volunteer to act as a ‘control’ or comparison with people who had had a TIA.
Several people were asked to take part in longer term monitoring of their blood pressure, sometimes using a mobile device which automatically transfers the results to the research team for analysis. Others just took their own blood pressure readings and kept a record. Sometimes they were visited at home by a research nurse.
Dennis was impressed that the research nurse made a special arrangement to visit him at home two days running to fit the 24-hour heart monitor and take it away again, because he wasn’t able to attend the hospital because he was going away.
A few people were invited to take part in additional research tests.
As several of these comments imply, being part of the research has sometimes given people what they regard as extra benefits, in terms of faster diagnosis, more intensive monitoring and adjustments to their treatment. Phillip saw a direct benefit by getting faster access to surgery because the research team insisted on his behalf.
Phillip was generally very positive about the value of the research and the benefit to him. He described his initial contact with the research team as ‘superbly rewarding. They did an absolutely brilliant job, I was just totally impressed by them.’ But he also had some less positive experiences, mainly because he wanted to have a closer relationship with them.

(See also ‘Relationships with the research team and feedback’).

Last reviewed June 2017.

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