TIA confirmed as two strokes

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Hiya,

I am a normally fit and well 48 year old.

About 10 days ago I had an episode where I basically lost control of my left hand side and this resulted in me collapsing. All came good fairly quickly and phoned 999. The Paramedic was great and thought I had a TIA. The Paramedic made me an appointment with the TIA Clinic.

I had recently had some blood tests done (for the 'well man check up' at my GP's) these were fine.

I attended the appointment at the TIA clinic. I had an ECG that was fine and my blood pressure was OK. I had a quick chat with the neurologist who said that I had probably had a migraine but to be sure it wasn’t a Stroke he booked me in for an MRI.

The following morning I had a call from the doctor who said that the MRI had showed that I had a stroke and also had an old stroke. He said that the two veins running through my neck were clear and not furred up.

I have been advised to take an aspirin each day and the doctor said he would refer me to the Cardiologist. I am now waiting for the appointment.

To be honest I am really worried that I am going to have another Stroke before I am seen again. Will an Aspirin really stop another more serious stroke from happening? How long do I leave it before I can expect some contact from the cardiologist?

I have been told to stop driving for a month after the stroke. When the month is up can I just start driving again or will I need a letter or something from my GP saying I am fit to drive? Will this be a problem with my car / motorbike insurance?

Sorry to ramble on... any advice would be really appreciated :-)

Hi DaveE
I’m new to this site too. I can relate to how you feel because I had a possible TIA three weeks ago, the day after passing a pre-op for abdominal surgery, and medical professionals cannot confirm if it was migraine or TIA. Scary isn’t it? Every little ache I’m thinking “Is this the start of a stroke”.
My consultant referred me to the Stroke Association and their young lady contacted me today and was very helpful.
I advised my travel insurers of the situation and paid an additional premium for yet another medical condition. I didn’t want to give insurers an excuse to turn down a possible claim for my not informing them of a pre-existing medical condition. I am trying to look forward to my 2018 holiday and not worry too much about what may or may not happen.
I am sorry that I am not able to answer your queries, hopefully someone more experienced will be in touch soon. Just wanted to let you know you are not alone.

Thanks Sam
It's scary stuff isn't it. I guess just take one day at a time and cross fingers that we will get through it OK. I hadn't thought of phoning the Stroke Association. Maybe i'll try that.
Good Luck :-)

Hi DaveE, as we read regularly on here, no two strokes are the same. But of all those I’ve read, yours sounded very similar to my experience. Five months ago, I woke up with loss of function to left hand and Left foot dragging, apparently I was also slurring my speech slightly. But eight hours later, everything was working fine so I decided to see what I was like in the morning. The next day I felt okay, so I just put it down to fatigue. However, on the third day, after discussion and advice from family and colleagues, I decided to visit my Dr. He said he thought I’d had a TIA. Told me not to drive for four weeks, take 300mg of Aspirin a day and referred me to the local Hospital TIA/Stroke unit.
The following day I was contacted by the Hospital TIA clinic and told to come in that afternoon for tests. These included: Weight, Blood Pressure, Pulse, Physical function test, ECG, Ultrasound of Neck Arteries and Discussion with the Dr. Everything appeared ok and he Initially he thought I’d had a different sort of Migraine ( I was an occasional Migraine sufferer) because other history of my health didn’t point at a Stroke. However when I had the MRI of my head, it confirmed I’d had a Blood Clot on the Right hand side of my Brain and there was evidence of permanent Dead tissue (also showed a Migraine I’d had three weeks earlier) So the Dr said I’d had a minor stroke, not a TIA! So we would now have to commence treatment accordingly. The next day I had numerous Blood tests and he prescribed Atorvastatin (20mg) straight away and Clopidogrel (75mg) to replace the Aspirin after two weeks.
My ECG had shown a murmur, I’ve always known about, so three weeks later, I wore a heart monitor for 72 hours. The results were ok and they said although I had a murmur, I didn’t show Atrial Fibulation (PAF). I saw the Clinic Dr again, a month after my stroke and he cleared me for driving again, but I had to tell my insurers. He also upped my dose of Atorvastatin to 40mg.
Two months after my stroke, I had an Echocardiogram and Bubble Study of my heart. The nurse said she could see ‘crossover’ on my heart ultrasound, which indicated blood flow between the left and right chambers of my heart which confirmed I had a hole in my heart (PFO). When my Dr saw the results, he advised me to take the anticoagulation drug Apixaban (5mg twice a day) to replace Clopidogrel with immediate effect.
And that’s where I am now. I have been referred to an Adult Congenital Heart specialist for further investigation of the hole in my heart with a view to possible PFO repair. However, they have warned me that there is a very long waiting list and at the age of 56, I’m not on the priority list. Like most people on this site, I’m on medication for the rest of my life, And although I am very fortunate to have ‘got off so lightly’ (touch wood!), the statistical ‘Elephant in the room’ of further strokes is a constant background worry for us all. I’m sorry DaveE, if this is a bit long winded, but I thought I’d give you the benefit of my experience so far, as your symptoms seemed similar to mine. Take care.

I am not medically qualified but my understanding is that drugs such as Aspirin, Clopidogril etc. are anti coagulants and so reduce the possibility of clots either in the brain or in other parts of the body which may travel to the brain, so yes they do help and most of the people on this site are on something similar for life.

After my stroke which was in my right hemisphere causing loss of use of my left arm and partial loss of use of my left leg, both now largely corrected, the brain is quite amazing, I was advised to loose weight as a means of reducing blood pressure, another stroke risk factor. I lost 20kg and am now at the upper end of normal and my blood pressure has dropped to the normal range. So you may want to consider reducing weight if you are overweight the weight is in your control.

I also understand that the risk of a further TIA is increased for 6 yrs. following the first one but reduces every year until the 6 yrs. is up. I can't give you a reliable academic source for this but it was told to me by a research nurse working in the field.

As far as driving is concerned be guided by your doctor, not being able to drive, particularly if you are in a rural area, is a pain in the **** but if you drive within that month against medical advise you will not be insured.

I suggest you ask you GP how long it is reasonable to wait as waiting times vary throughout the country.

Sorry this is not more helpful but each TIA/stroke is different and even people with none of the above risk factor still get them. You are obviously worried but they are survivable and life does get better.

If any of this factually wrong and if you have the expertise please correct it.

Your cardiologist will be interested in and atrial fibrillation as this is linked with increased incidence of stroke and will possibly look at the blood flow through your femoral arteries where restriction of the arteries is also linked with stroke. If he finds either or both he will treat them, how is way beyond my knowledge.

Thank you for sharing Gaz61,
Our stories do seem to be very similar, knowing that you are 5 months ahead of me and doing OK is really reassuring.
I guess it takes a while to come to terms with having had a Stroke. It's now been two and a half weeks and each day the worry that its going to happen again reduces. The NHS are brilliant but I share your frustration how long it is taking to get things done. It looks like I have an 8 week wait to get an appointment with a cardiologist. I guess that it will be a further wait before I get the echo cardiogram etc.
Thanks again for your post, I really appreciate it.
Best of luck and take care - Dave

Hi Bittern
Thanks for your post, lots of useful points.
I am glad to hear that you are making a good recovery from your Stroke and well done for tackling the weight loss issue... 20KG thats amazing. What an inspiration.
Cheers
Dave

Just a quick up date - I phoned the Stroke Association help line. The lady that I spoke with was fantastic and answered all of my questions. I got quite upset at one point and she was really understanding. If you are struggling I would definitely recommend giving them a call :-)

Hi DaveE, i had my stroke in October and recovering, and yes everything is daunting i suppose its all recovery and time. Its good though to hear of stories with people who know how we feel

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