Up to 10,000 major strokes a year could be prevented if the early warning signs in susceptible individuals were assessed and treated rapidly, doctors say today.
Two research groups in France and Britain have found that early treatment of people who suffer a minor stroke, also known as a transient ischaemic attack (TIA), can cut the risk of a major stroke by 80 per cent.
The treatment is cheap and simple – often a daily dose of aspirin will be enough – but the speed with which it is administered is the key to its success.
In the British study, researchers at the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, compared patients referred to a specialist clinic for assessment and then sent back to their GP for treatment, who waited 23 days for their pills, with a second group who were assessed and treated within a day.
The results showed 10.3 per cent of the first group suffered a major stroke within the next three months, compared to 2.1 per cent of the rapidly treated group.
The French researchers also found an 80 per cent reduction in risk with rapid treatment.
The studies are published in The Lancet and The Lancet Neurology.