Rugby star, Chris Henry, knows the importance of getting medical help when having a TIA/mini stroke. “In 2014, hours before the Ireland v South Africa autumn international rugby match in Dublin, I had a TIA or mini-stroke, at the age of 30.
“When I got up that morning, I went into the hotel bathroom and suddenly my left arm fell down, the left side of my face fell and my speech was slurred. I knew I needed urgent help. My father had had a stroke and so I was well aware of the symptoms. However, because my speech was slurred, my roommate Rhys Ruddock was unable to understand me as I tried to tell him to get a doctor.
“Even though he didn’t know what I was saying, Rhys realised that something was badly wrong and so ran through the corridors of the hotel in just his underwear to get help. Within 3 minutes a doctor was by my side. After spending four days in St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin, it emerged that I had in fact suffered a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), known as a mini–stroke, related to an undiagnosed hole in my heart. I had an operation at the end of November 2014 to close the hole in my heart.
“After the operation I was on blood thinning medication which meant I couldn’t play rugby – too many bumps and knocks! But thankfully by the end of March 2015, I was off this and was given the all clear to become available for selection by Ulster. My first game back for Ulster was against Cardiff Blues on 27th March 2015. Ulster won!
“My story has a happy ending but it has left me determined to raise awareness of TIA.”
Just like a stroke, a TIA is caused by an interruption in the blood supply to the brain. TIA actually stands for ‘Transient Ischaemic Attack’, but we prefer to say TIA = TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION!
In a TIA, a blood vessel in the brain is temporarily blocked by a clot, but the body breaks down the clot before any lasting damage has been done to the brain.
But a clot is a clot. It may be temporary but it should not be ignored because it is a serious warning that something is wrong with the blood flow to your brain and a full stroke could happen in the future. In fact, if you have a TIA, you have an increased chance of having a full stroke in the next year.
The symptoms of a TIA are the same as the symptoms of a full stroke, though they disappear within 24 hours:
- blurred or reduced vision
- numbness, weakness or paralysis of the face, arms or legs
- difficulty speaking or understanding
- dizziness or loss of balance
- difficulty swallowing
- severe headache
- nausea or vomiting
If you experience the symptoms of a TIA, TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION and seek urgent medical help. It could save you from having a full stroke.