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Patient Christine Durrant and consultant Sajid Alam
Patient quick to spot mini stroke symptoms
09 March 2017

A grateful patient who describes herself as “lucky to be here today” has urged others to get medical treatment fast if they experience any of the symptoms of a mini stroke.

Christine Durrant was referred to Ipswich Hospital at the end of January after a thin see-through veil descended over her eye twice within ten days, impacting her vision. Following a series of urgent tests, consultants confirmed she had suffered two transient ischaemic attacks (TIAs) or ‘mini strokes’, while the carotid artery in her neck, which carries blood to the brain, was 95% blocked.

CT image of the carotid artery, thae artery which supplies the brain. The red arrow shows severe narrowing.The next day, the 64-year-old was referred to Colchester hospital for surgery to widen the artery, and was able to return home in Claydon just one day later.

“I felt absolutely fine and had no symptoms other than this see-through grey curtain descending over my eye, then disappearing a few seconds later,” said Christine. “I’m so pleased it happened twice because that’s what prompted me to get checked out by my optician and is the reason I’m still here today.

“I was so impressed with how quickly the tests took place at Ipswich and then my surgery at Colchester. I am also really grateful to optometrist Hillary Hayes, the store director of Stowmarket Specsavers, and all of the hospital staff. Although I’ve got a big scar [from hospital surgery], it’s a small price to pay.

“I now feel really well and am looking forward to celebrating my birthday later this month and keep thinking to myself how lucky I am to have made it. I was walking around with a ticking time bomb in my neck and will never know how close I came to it going off.

“I would urge anyone else who has any of the symptoms of a TIA to get checked immediately as it may save your life.”

TIAs are caused by a temporary disruption in the blood supply to part of the brain and can cause sudden symptoms similar to those of a stroke, such as speech and visual disturbance, and numbness or weakness in the face, arms and legs.

Above is a CT image of the carotid artery, the artery which supplies the brain. The red arrow shows severe narrowing.

However, a TIA does not last as long as a stroke, with the effects often only spanning a few minutes or hours, and fully resolving within 24 hours.

Dr Sajid Alam, consultant in stroke medicine at Ipswich Hospital, said: “Anyone who experiences transient symptoms which then resolve themselves should get them checked out urgently, as they may be a sign that a stroke is around the corner.

“We aim to see patients who are referred to us after having a suspected TIA within 24 hours so that we can investigate the cause and take action so that we can hopefully prevent the patient from having a full stroke at a later stage. We also have a very good collaboration with the vascular surgeons at Colchester, so we can refer patients immediately wherever necessary.”

Hillary Hayes said: "Christine's case is a prime example of why it's vital both glasses and non-glasses wearers know to get their eyes tested at least every two years. It's not just about maintaining your eye health, but your overall health - your eyes can reveal signs of a whole host of health conditions."