TIA and Minor Stroke

Work after transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or minor stroke

Having a TIA or minor stroke affected people’s work lives in different ways. Some of the people we interviewed experienced their TIA when they were either at work or on their way to work. Some, like John (below) tried to carry on hoping that colleagues and clients wouldn’t notice something was wrong. Clare was fortunate that she worked in an organisation where there were trained nursing staff in the building who recognised what was might be wrong and called 999 immediately. Yvonne on the other hand went into work and tried to keep going because she thought that her symptoms were due to an adverse reaction to some medication she had been prescribed (see ‘Driving’ and ‘Symptoms’).
It wasn’t until sometime after experiencing the symptoms of what turned out to be a TIA that Yvonne stopped working because she didn’t realise that she had had one.
Most people who had a job or a business to run had to stop working for a while in order to rest and recover.

This could have a big impact, for example on income - particularly if the person was self-employed and did not get sick pay. Some people went back to work when they felt well enough but it could be difficult to continue exactly as things had been before they had been unwell because they got tired more easily and needed to slow down.
Some people felt that stress may have been contributed to their illness and made plans to cut back on hours, change priorities and in some cases retire sooner than originally planned.
For some people it was difficult to contemplate the changes to their work lives. Yvonne had been in the police force for many years and enjoyed her job immensely but having been diagnosed with a heart condition a year or so before having a TIA found herself having to think about leaving her job and doing something different. Yvonne said that after her TIA she felt humiliated, ‘washed up’, because she could no longer do the things she used to be able to do and was looking for something new that would help her to feel more useful again. Most people said that they felt it was important to fill the time with doing something worthwhile and that it was important to keep busy, and a number had thought about or started doing some voluntary work. After having had this experience themselves some felt that they wanted to do something to help and support other people who had experienced TIA or stroke.
Some people continued to work but found that they had to make certain adjustments, for example Roger works as a pianist in quite a social environment and now feels it’s important to watch how much alcohol he drinks. Others felt that having the TIA had given them an insight into how their working life might be limited in the future if they were to have a further more serious episode.

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Last reviewed June 2017.


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