One exception, Siller added, is what's known as a hemorrhagic stroke. In this instance, you would likely experience a sudden, severe, unexplained headache. If you have such a headache or any of the above symptoms, Siller said, you should get to the hospital immediately.
Unfortunately, not many people realize the need for urgent care. In the Stroke study, British researchers surveyed 241 people who had experienced a transient ischemic attack. Just 44.4 percent sought medical care within a few hours of experiencing TIA symptoms, and only 10 percent sought any emergency medical care for their symptoms.
Another 44 percent waited longer than a day after their symptoms to seek care. People who had symptoms that lasted more than one hour -- and those with motor symptoms, such as difficulty walking -- were more likely to seek care. If the TIA symptoms occurred on a weekend, people were more likely to delay seeking treatment.
People "want to wait until they feel better, and most TIAs get better within an hour. If it gets better, people just think, 'Oh, that was weird,' and then they may call their doctor later," Schumacher said.
Or, they may just forget the symptoms altogether, Siller said. "When symptoms are gone, and they feel better, people forget. But, it's a misconception that if it went away, it doesn't mean anything," he said.
"Although TIA is called a mini-stroke; it's like having a real stroke. It's a warning sign for a major disabling stroke," Schumacher said.
Getting to the hospital as soon as possible after TIA or stroke symptoms begin is critical. The reason: Clot-busting drugs that can spare you many of stroke's worst effects -- including paralysis -- have to be administered within several hours after the onset of symptoms to be effective, Siller explained.
"If you wait, we can't do as much to help you," he said.
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