A stroke is caused by insufficient or interrupted blood supply to part of the brain, which causes interruption of delivery of oxygen and nutrients to brain tissue, causing brain damage within minutes.
A stroke is a neurological emergency, requiring urgent, potentially lifesaving, hospital treatment to reduce brain damage and prevent further brain damage and related residual neurodisability.
A transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or "mini stroke" is caused by a temporary disruption in the blood supply to part of the brain with identical symptoms to a stroke. However, the symptoms are temporary and may come and go multiple times as a warning sign before the onset of a stroke.
The onset of symptoms is usually sudden and might include:
Problems with speaking, such as slurred speech, and issues with comprehension and understanding.
Weakness or numbness on one side of your body.
Sudden onset of visual problems on one or both sides, or problems with eye movements associated with a double vision.
Headache, sometimes associated with nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or altered consciousness.
Instability, problems with coordination and balance, or even with walking.
A stroke patient usually needs to be admitted to hospital for urgent assessment.
A transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or "mini stroke" can be reviewed via the outpatient clinic, but the review should be done as soon as possible in order to set up a proper diagnostic and treatment plan, as the patient is at risk of a stroke.
Besides a neurological examination, the usual investigations for ischaemic strokes include blood tests, a CT or MRI brain scan, an ultrasound, or an angiography of intracranial arteries, large arteries of the neck, as well as a cardiologic investigation, including ECHO heart and Holter ECG.
Based on the identified type and cause of the stroke, further therapeutic and prophylactic interventions are recommended.
When to see a doctor
If you experience the onset of symptoms typical of a stroke, please immediately call the emergency services to be reviewed in an acute hospital.
A transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or "mini stroke" can also be reviewed via an outpatient clinic, but this should be done by a specialist as soon as possible.
Further monitoring and reviews of treatment strategies can be done on an outpatient basis.